More than 500 financial technology (fintech) experts and enthusiasts gathered in Barbados for the three-day Fintech Islands Experience 2024 (FiX24) conference, which kicked off January 24 at Sam’s Lord Castle, A Wyndham Grand Resort.
This second edition of FiX recorded significant growth, attracting delegates from the Caribbean, Americas, Europe, and Africa. FiX24 also garnered the attention of top-tier partners such as platinum sponsors Mastercard and gold sponsors Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI,) Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited, and Invest Barbados. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fintech Islands, Allison Hunte, said this impressive lineup of sponsors is a testament to the value and importance of the conference to the Caribbean and highlights the exceptional opportunities available to attendees.
Hunte added, “We hope to be the catalyst to expand the landscape of financial technology in the region, getting the right people in the room. So, we had regulators here, we had founders, CEOs, traditional banks, and digital banks. We want to be able to encourage financial inclusivity and make sure that people who are unbanked have access. It is not complicated – it's a simple application on an app. We also have solutions to the problems of micro-lending where small business owners like hotdog vendors, who can't get traditional banking loans, can apply through some of the companies that are here.”
Meanwhile, Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Fintech Islands, Curt Persaud, said they hope to build on the momentum from the previous conference, which saw several partnerships, agreements and startups formed. This year, ten early-stage Caribbean fintech start-ups pitched their ideas for a chance to win a cash award of US$10,000.
“The startups seek to solve the day-to-day problems. For example, there are several payment wallets, but what if you had a cross-payment platform where it doesn't matter what wallet you have, they all speak the underlying language, and you can choose which wallet is your favorite and transfer between them,” Persaud added.
The opening day featured several speakers, including Diego Szteinhendler, Senior Vice President of Fintech & Enablers for Latin America, and the Caribbean at Mastercard, Alfonso Garcia Mora, Regional Vice President of International Finance Corporation at The World Bank Group, and Matteo Rizzi, Founder of Timepledge Ltd. A total of 125 renowned speakers, including founders, investors, CEOs, and policymakers in the financial services and technology ecosystem, participated over the three days discussing various topics aimed at keeping up with the latest trends in fintech, such as The Role of Fintech in Inclusive and Sustainable Development; Moving Fintech Forward: Trends and Opportunities in 2024 and Beyond; The Rise of the Fintech-Powered Super App; and Growing Fintech Unicorns: An Ambitious Vision for Inclusive Prosperity in the Caribbean.
In addition to participating in panel discussions and networking sessions, attendees also enjoyed the local culture and experienced the best of Barbados. The networking events included exciting activities such as an island safari, zipline adventure, rum-tasting tour, and go-kart racing.