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Burt backs fintech and promises new products

David Burt, the Premier on his 100 days in office (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Premier said new products were being created in the financial technology sector – although progress was slower than he had wanted.

Mr Burt admitted: “I would have liked it to advance faster.

“But I think we are in a far better position as a country to have taken the steps that we did to advance that industry so we can have a foothold.”

He added: “There are amazing innovations that are happening from Bermuda-based financial technology companies.”

Mr Burt was speaking as he discussed the Government’s performance in the 100 days since last October’s General Election.

He said the industry had detractors when Bermuda launched its bid to become a leader in the industry in 2017.

Mr Burt added there had been “intense criticism about the promise of fintech”.

But he said: “Now we can see that the Government had the right call, the right decision – we see more businesses coming to the country to be licensed, and that are creating economic jobs and opportunity in future industries.”

Mr Burt added the island’s banks had been reluctant to back new industries such as cryptocurrencies.

He said: “At the early stages, we have to remember that the fintech department was engaged with overseas banks to sign agreements with them so they would bank persons who went through our licensing process, because we could not guarantee them banking services with our own domestic banks.

“Those are the challenges.”

The Premier identified gaming and cannabis as other problem areas.

He said: “When it comes to fintech itself, we are making progress. Some of the local banks are slowly coming around.

“I know that one of the companies that recently had a licence, Bittrex Global, they’re going to be doing something soon, that Bermudians can go onto Bittrex and set up accounts and do all these things, because they’re licensed out of Bermuda, where it was difficult to do before.”

Bittrex Global secured a licence from the Bermuda Monetary Authority last September to operate a cryptocurrency exchange on the island.

Mr Burt said Bittrex had launched “an innovative product where they have tokenised trading of stocks, so you don’t even have to have access to a stockbroker and pay massive exchange fees in case you want to buy stocks”.

He added people could use their credit cards through Bittrex to buy “various stock – Apple and Tesla and these things”.

Mr Burt also highlighted Circle, a fintech firm from the US that set up in Bermuda in 2019.

He said Circle’s island arm offered interest rate yields on USDC – a cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar.

Mr Burt added: “It is an amazing improvement in financial technology, which is happening in Bermuda.”

He said: “We’ve been known for insurance innovation and we want to be known for financial technology innovation and with the support of the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the lawyers, the fintech team, we are actually succeeding in that area.

“ And I think there are more and better things to come.”

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Published January 11, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 10, 2021 at 7:18 pm)

Burt backs fintech and promises new products

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