Tuesday, November 29, 2022

With more financial flows, Guyana pushing digital payments, anti-money laundering efforts

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With Guyana’s financial sector expected to grow in tandem with the booming oil industry, it has been recognised by global watchdogs such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that authorities are beefing up efforts to maintain financial stability.

In one of its latest reports, the lending agency welcomed the government’s commitment to further strengthen its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework. It has also encouraged the new producer to remain focused on this area, especially as it relates to advancing the regulation of digital payments.

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Local authorities were keen to note that with the onset of the oil sector, digital payments are indeed growing rapidly. Until recently, they said Guyana was mostly a cash-based society, with bank services limited to electronic banking, credit, and debit cards. However, the hydrocarbon sector as well as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital change, and many consumers adopted the existing Mobile Money Payment System offered by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).

Government has since agreed that development in mobile money and digital payment should be balanced with a risk-based approach to regulation to mitigate risks that give rise to money laundering. The authorities were keen to note that this is being addressed.

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IMF staff has said it is willing to provide any technical assistance the country requires for regulation and supervision of mobile payments. This recommendation remains before the State as Guyana is expected to undergo the fourth mutual evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) by the end-2023.

The Washington-based organisation was keen to note that Guyana has been removed from the CFATF list of strategic jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in November 2016. IMF officials said too that full compliance with international standards would bolster Guyana’s fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. It alluded to the criticality of this as the country’s oil development continues its industry-leading trajectory.

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