House approves Bill to create fintech banks
MPs approved a new type of banking licence to cater to Bermuda’s fintech industry last night.
David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly that the restricted licence would allow fintech companies access to a Bermuda bank account and the chance to be part of the island economy.
He said: “Despite the robust regulations put in place, to date our four local banks have been unwilling to offer services to newly incorporated fintech and distributed ledger technology companies.
“This is a problem that we must fix or else Bermuda will not be able to realise the possibility of economic growth that can come from a fintech industry on our shores.”
Mr Burt added: “This Government believes that fintech companies that are licensed to participate in legal business ventures in Bermuda should not be treated differently and should not be shut out from participating fully in the local economy.
“It was therefore incumbent on this Progressive Labour Party government to find a solution to this problem.”
Mr Burt said the amendments to the Banks and Deposit Companies Act 1999 would solve the problem.
Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the Opposition, the One Bermuda Alliance, asked how many banks would be set up under the restricted licence.
Mr Burt said the number of banks would be driven by market demand.
Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, backed the Bill but emphasised the need for it to be implemented in a manner that is “measured, intentional and acceptable by the regulators and industry so that our banking fraternity is not compromised and that we can still go to the international markets knowing that our banking industry is first-class, reputable and functional”.
Mr Simons said he was also concerned “that we may be travelling too quickly in that we are over-promising and under-delivering”.
He added some interested parties said the concept was right but were not satisfied that all the regulations and safety precautions were in place.
But Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security said: “Yes, we are moving at a rapid pace but the steps are deliberate. The steps are consultative and they are in keeping with global best practices.”
Kim Swan, a PLP backbencher, spoke in support of the Bill and encouraged opponents of a fintech industry to look at the opportunities it presented.
Chris Famous, also a PLP backbencher, said innovation was important.
He added that Bermuda’s strides in the fintech industry had been praised by finance ministers from across the Caribbean at the recent Caricom conference in Jamaica.
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