Rodney Bay, St. Lucia was the venue for the Competitive Business Unit’s two day Forum on E-Payments. The forum was attended by delegates from nine OECS member states with the objective of promoting harmonized rules and regulations in the OECS region for conducting electronic payments.
The forum sought to bring together representatives from a wide cross section of the relevant stakeholders including government regulators, banks and electronic payment processors, chambers of commerce and small business development associations, and the private sector to discuss issues currently faced in effecting monetary transactions online.
Kittivisian Life spoke with one of the representatives from St. Kitts and Nevis, businessman Rodney Browne founder and Managing Director of eCaribbean Ltd and asked him for his thoughts of the two day forum.
Mr. Browne stated that he found the exercise to be quite informative as it related to the prime objective of establishing a harmonised legal framework to enable ePayments across the OECS sub-region. “The workshop was on point, as it related to the challenges facing the region and the need for legislation, so the workshop met that objective” Browne said.
Mr. Browne went onto state that ….
“it was clear that many of the states had a lot to do as it relates to enacting appropriate legislation”, however legislation was not the only challenge he pointed out, “as the discussion moved to the future of electronic payments, it became clear that the commercial banks needed to do more in terms of the information given to the public about their services as well as enhancing their services”
One of the common threads identified was that of “culture” due to a traditional mindset of conducting cash or physical transactions he stated. “Consumers for the most part would frequent a business place to make a payment” he said, “as a result businesses don’t adopt an online first mindset to payments when developing websites.” Mr. Browne added.
He referred to this situation as “a chicken and egg scenario”, “businesses including the banks would say that there’s little demand for online payments and therefore don’t seek to make the option available or if they do the cost is too high, which is a further deterrent to the few businesses who may be considering making the investment in providing an online payment option.”
I asked whether the businesses were seeking online payments as a means of expanding their service offering beyond their physical markets and export their goods? Mr. Browne, said “For the most part, business tended to consider their markets as being solely, national. The small size of our economies together with that mindset meant that there wasn’t the ‘push’ to offer ePayments and combined with consumers being somewhat conditioned towards physical payments, there wasn’t the ‘pull’ or demand for ePayments.”
Browne, commented further, that
“the observation was made by the majority of stakeholders present, that the absence of key or senior policy makers from the public sector was unfortunate and would need to be addressed for future sessions if the project is to be successfully implemented.”
Mr. Browne, summarised the two day event, as “a very timely and worthwhile intervention, and the workshop met the objectives set out in the concept paper circulated, but beyond that was very informative and insightful.”
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