The Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference (CYDEC - http://www.cydec.ky) was held on Tuesday 21 June, 2022, at the Westin Grand Cayman, and the Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development (IISD) provided key sponsorship for the event.
The Hon. André Ebanks, Minister for Financial Services, Commerce, Investment, Innovation and Social Development, is away from the Cayman Islands this week representing the Cayman Islands Government in a global forum on fin-tech, innovation and governance.
Acting Minister Kathryn Ebanks-Wilks delivered opening remarks to conference participants. “Government’s vision is for technology to be a driver for a better quality of life across all spectrums of society,” she said. “The future of the Cayman Islands is one where citizens can see technology allow for efficient access to important public services. At present, a number of initiatives are under way to get us closer to that reality.”
In her remarks, Ebanks-Wilks highlighted a transformational initiative that took place within the Ministry of IISD (MIISD) during the past year, a secure and comprehensive online interface for the Government’s Needs Assessment Unit (NAU).
Developed jointly between the Ministry’s eGovernment Unit and Computer Services Department, this new system has provided the ability for vulnerable Caymanians who need to apply Government’s financial assistance to utilise any Internet-enabled device - including mobile phones - to complete and submit an application to the NAU (press release https://www.gov.ky/news/press-release-details/new-nau-online-application-2021). Previously, NAU applicants had no option but to visit the office and apply in person.
At the same time, the private sector has made a significant contribution to Caymanians in need by removing a potential hurdle to their use of the digital interface. In February 2022, telecoms provider Digicel made it possible for anyone with an active Digicel SIM card (even without account credit) to utilise the NAU’s online functionality. (Announced in February 2022 - press release https://www.gov.ky/news/press-release-details/ministry-iisd-announces-partnership-with-digicelcayman)
Acting Minister Ebanks-Wilks provided an overview of pertinent legislation and initiatives within the Ministry of Financial Services and Commerce, stating that the Ministry’s objective is “to help shape the Cayman Islands into a jurisdiction that features the type of innovation that positively impacts our financial services industry and overall reputation.”
She explained the legal and regulatory regime around Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) - persons and entities whose businesses (on behalf of another person or entity) provide certain services that use or rely on virtual assets, stating “The foundation for progress in the virtual assets space is a legislative framework that meets client needs and adapts to regulatory changes. Our VASPs framework is built on a comprehensive base of legislation which has been in place since 2020 and features our principal law, the Virtual Asset (Service Providers) Act. Our framework also empowers the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) to act as the regulator for local VASP activity, and has amendments to our securities, mutual funds and anti-money laundering regimes.”
Following Acting Minister Ebanks-Wilks, the conference featured a speech by Mr. Ian Tibbetts, Director of the Cayman Islands Government’s eGovernment Unit in the Ministry of IISD.
Mr. Tibbetts explained the structure and design of his department’s initiatives to streamline digital systems, to make it easier for residents and businesses to carry out transactions with the Cayman Islands Government - referred to as “Imagine eCayman”.
Tibbetts said that subsequent to a consultation on the proposed legislation that underpins the system and then adoption of the legislation by the Cayman Islands Parliament, residents and businesses of the Cayman Islands will benefit from a truly streamlined system of digital governance - made possible with a digital identity.
“Digital systems will virtually eliminate the requirement for individuals repeatedly having to present documents and information to different Government entities, while Government stores the same information in numerous locations,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
He continued, “Digital identification will be pivotal in a wide range of digital interactions between individuals, the Cayman Islands Government and other non-government institutions. It will enable secure, verifiable and efficient exchange of information between and within Government’s information systems - based on the context. ‘Imagine eCayman’ will benefit individuals and the wider society by facilitating sharing of reliable digital identity information and verification.”
The Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development’s Acting Deputy Chief Officer Mr. Rayle Roberts participated in a panel discussion - “Where do technology and social development intersect?” - along with other conference speakers. Mr. Roberts discussed the Ministry’s broad approach of integrating social development with innovation - both wholescale and incremental. He covered numerous Ministry initiatives including cyber education for the elderly, and insights as to designing innovative systems for Government’s clients that enhance service delivery.
The Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development was a Gold Sponsor of CYDEC 2022, along with leading private sector businesses in the Cayman Islands.