A new digital sector industry body, called Digital Cayman, was launched last week with the aim of developing and growing Cayman’s digital economy.

The establishment of the non-profit organisation was announced at the Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference (CyDEC) on 20 June.

“The digital economy is growing rapidly, and the digital revolution is well and truly under way on a global scale,” said Digital Cayman executive board member Chris Wall, owner of Walzzy Creative SEZC, and co-founder of Grappzie, a UK-based digital first marketplace for personalised creativity.

“As an industry-led, not-for-profit organisation, Digital Cayman aims to cultivate Cayman’s dynamic and innovative digital ecosystem to ensure that the Cayman Islands adopts and adapts to this ever-changing environment,” he said.

The idea for an organisation to support the government in the development of industry-specific policy and legislation was developed at the 2018 CyDEC conference during a meeting of industry professionals and government representatives.

Paul Byles, Digital Cayman executive board member, founder of the CyDEC conference, and director at management consulting company FTS, said, “We’re on a mission to strengthen Cayman’s digital sector by advocating for positive policy changes that will encourage the growth of the digital sector while adhering to appropriate standards for risk and reputational management purposes.”

Minister of Financial Services Tara Rivers said at this year’s CyDEC event, “We look forward to engaging with Digital Cayman as we explore new regulatory needs and legislation to ensure that the Cayman Islands remains at the forefront of innovation, and compliant with International standards.”

Digital Cayman is currently facilitated by a steering committee of 15 technology professionals and industry leaders, and is supported by Cayman’s special economic zone Cayman Enterprise City.

John Edge, Digital Cayman committee member and Connection Science Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that the growing number of opportunities for the Cayman Islands is significant. “Digital Cayman is a much-needed industry group which will coordinate and champion opportunities to make certain that the Cayman Islands plays a meaningful global role in the data economy through its proven trust and fiduciary services,” he said.

CyDEC conference

The second annual Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa discussed fintech, blockchain, cryptocurrency and digitisation topics, and their implications for the future of Cayman economy.

A day after the announcement of Facebook’s own digital currency, Libra, Justin Fisher, CEO and co-founder of VeriBlock, presented the pros and cons of this system and how it will allow billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe in a move that could change the world’s banking system.

With the dramatic highs and lows of the cryptocurrency landscape in recent years, Nolan Bauerle, writer and researcher at CoinDesk delved into the current cryptocurrency climate and discussed how far the digital economy has come, finishing on a discussion around artificial intelligence and how it will impact our lives.

As the integration of digital technology becomes apparent in our everyday lives, Kwaku Aning, director at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking, discussed how the digitisation of education practices can both improve and hinder our children’s way of learning as we move from ‘old school’ to ‘new school’ systems.

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, remain an opportunity for international financial centres, such as the Cayman Islands, according to Ravi Bahadursingh, barrister at Chancery Lane Chambers, who explored how these risks can be managed and where this structure is headed in the future.

Expert panels featuring international and local experts focussed on how regulators should manage the risks associated with fintech and what the future of the digital economy might look like and how our lives are being ‘disrupted’.

The conference also brought together students from local schools that recently competed in the Dart Minds Inspired ‘Rover Ruckus’ challenge, to discuss the importance of this programme in Cayman and demonstrate their fascinating robotic creations.

Conference organiser Paul Byles said, “The speakers for this year’s conference truly captured what the digital economy signifies and how these developments will impact our way of life and the way we do business in the Cayman Islands.”

Conference sponsor Cayman Tech City invited 10 students to attend the conference who had expressed an interest in technology through the CEC ‘Summer in the City’ internship programme.

“With an eye to the future, Cayman Enterprise City is inspiring the next generation to pursue technology-driven careers by connecting students with the experts, supporting forward-looking programs like CyDEC and providing engaging learning opportunities within Cayman’s special economic zones,” said Kaitlyn Elphinstone, VP Marketing, Cayman Enterprise City.