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Fintech adviser: ‘naysayers’ risk Bermuda losing out on ‘biggest industry of the next decade’

Denis Pitcher, the Government’s fintech adviser, has warned that ‘naysayers’ could drive out the fintech industry from Bermuda.

Bermuda’s “naysayers” risk the island losing out on “the biggest industry of the next decade”, the Government’s fintech adviser has warned.

Denis Pitcher, head of the booking management company resQwest, decried a killjoy attitude that scuppered the island’s e-commerce prospects 20 years ago – and said Bermuda was at “a similar inflection point” with fintech and digital assets.

Mr Pitcher’s comments came after the collapse of the global fintech firm FTX sent a chill through the burgeoning new industry, which Bermuda has pursued aggressively since 2017 in the prospects of becoming a tech hub and regulator.

He wrote on Twitter: “Bermuda had the opportunity to play a much bigger role in e-commerce and develop a tech industry but blew it.

“Naysayers dominated discussions in the early 2000s. Ultimately Bermuda gave up focus and missed the boat. I fear the same may happen with fintech and digital assets.”

In the wake of FTX’s abrupt downfall this month, after the firm had reaped billions in investment, David Burt stood by the island’s promise as a trailblazer in the world of digital business.

The Premier posted online that Bermuda’s regulatory regime stood to give “prudential oversight” for the new field of fintech.

But others have warned that the “easy money” in cryptocurrency could injure Bermuda’s reputation as a jurisdiction while providing little return.

Last month Martin Walker, banking and finance director at the non-profit Centre for Evidence-Based Management, told The Royal Gazette that the crypto industry thrived off a lack of regulation with “high-risk, increasingly complex products”.

Bermuda courted e-commerce from the late 1990s, assigning the emerging industry its own government department.

But Mr Pitcher lamented that critics poured cold water on what could have propelled the island into internet-driven business.

He said there “could have been more of a driver if people had looked for them rather than looked for reasons it shouldn't be here”.

He highlighted the creation of the e-commerce incubator eVenture Centre, which was the springboard for his own business as well as firms such as QuoVadis and Ignition.

He added that “tech was not well supported”, posting: “Many people argued that tech wouldn’t be a thing and that Bermuda couldn’t lead in tech because it was behind in terms of infrastructure at the time.”

Although eVenture had a promising start, it folded when its backer, the insurer Centre Group, dropped it in 2003.

Mr Pitcher, whose firm provided the software behind Covid-19 travel protocols, wrote: “I suspect that if Bermuda had focused and pushed ahead, it would have a much more vibrant tech industry.

“Bermuda is at a similar inflection point. Let the naysayers win and we’ll likely not play much of a role in the biggest industry of the next decade.

“We’ll look back and wonder why we still only have a single substantial economic pillar and wonder why we missed the boat, again.”

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Published November 21, 2022 at 9:42 am (Updated November 22, 2022 at 7:56 am)

Fintech adviser: ‘naysayers’ risk Bermuda losing out on ‘biggest industry of the next decade’

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