(CMR) Over 130 people registered for the fourth annual Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference (CYDEC), hosted virtually by FTS, on 3 June. Launched in 2018 as the first conference of its kind in the Cayman Islands, CYDEC has become a highly anticipated signature event in Cayman.
This year’s theme focused on how digitization can help Cayman to preserve and enhance its position as one of the world's most successful international financial centers, one of the most attractive tourist destinations, and one of the most COVID-safe countries both in the global market and locally, for the benefit of Caymanians.
Featured topics included: cryptocurrencies, Cayman’s new digital ID, the pros and cons of digital currency, digitization of the KYC process, and a keynote international speech on the global digital revolution.
The annual conference was brought to the virtual platform following last year’s COVID restrictions. Following 2020’s online success, and the opportunity it creates for international speakers and delegates, CYDEC has remained on-screen for its second year.
Andre Ebanks, Minister of Financial Services and Commerce, and of Investment Innovation and Social Development, launched the event and introduced this year’s theme: Putting Cayman on the digitization track.
Minister Ebanks described the Cayman Islands’ future as extraordinarily bright in this space. Touching on social development, he said, “The overall vision of this government is to ensure that investment in innovation not only assists those who are well-off, but also the most vulnerable in society.”
He also discussed Cayman’s preparedness for technological development, saying, “There are of course global challenges, but we are well poised to meet these challenges – as we have done in the past.”
Paul Byles, Director of FTS and CYDEC Founder, was delighted with this year’s turnout. The local economist is passionate about Cayman fully immersing in the digital revolution and said, “The purpose is to show how digitization can help to improve various aspects of our lives. It's also about putting the Cayman Islands on track; most developed countries have had formal institutional structures in place to foster technological innovation and awareness in this area for years.”
Keynote speaker James Alexander delivered an address about the transition toward an equitable, carbon-neutral, nature-positive society. The co-founder of #voiceoftheplanet and director at Future Agenda shared his insights as a foresight, strategy, and innovation consultant – presenting “Global trends in digitization. How it started, how it’s going.”
Another global perspective was brought by Caribbean Economist Marla Dukharan. She stated that that Cayman already has the foundation in place to lead in the area of technology, both within government and the private sector – particularly with regards to digital currency services.
Listing some of the benefits, she said, “Digitising government services means fiscal savings, increased collections of government, and new and improved efficiency in the deployment of public spending.”
Ian Tibbetts, Director of eGovernment, Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development, delivered key insights around Cayman’s proposed digital register and national ID card – planned to go before Parliament in 2021. He took the audience through the concept and its benefits, using the success of Estonia’s similar program as a case study.
Tibbetts described the government’s digital identity program as fundamentally “empowering our people to securely participate in the digital society.” When discussing the initiative’s timeline, he said, “the “bills and regulations are being drafted for the various consultations with the aim of going to Parliament later this year.”
The international speakers were joined by other local industry experts, including Petri Basson, Oliver Close, Justin Fisher, Adam Lambert, Blair Lilford, and Ryan Watson.
The success of this annual event has contributed to the continued growth and development of the digital industry in Cayman. The first CYDEC event in 2018 inspired Byles to launch the ‘Digital Cayman’ industry body.