Speaking at the launching, CBSI Governor Luke Forau said the initiative of digitizing the marketplace comes at the right time.
“It is at the right time when businesses, the financial sector, and the government are seeking better ways to assist and enhance efficiency and convenience in the marketplace as well as provide consumers with alternative channels for purchase, especially now that the need for contactless payments and compliance to health measures are critical for SMEs and market vendor businesses to keep afloat,” he said.
Forau, therefore, said, in this digital era where technology has been fronting resilience of businesses to COVID-19, the urgency of having a digital marketplace will support key SMEs, market vendor and businesses, in general, to maintain supply chains and linkages during these critical times where the likelihood of a COVID-19 lockdown is high.
“Since this initiative will encourage citizens to use digital financial services, it will preserve the functioning of the financial system and security of the people during the difficult times,” he said.
He said more importantly, for the Solomon Islands, the experience of mock-lock downs and curfews, the need for stockpiling of essential food and supplies which the low income cannot afford have highlighted the need for alternative approaches to enable the marketplace to serve everyone’s needs.
“Thus, I believe this digital initiative will necessitate the onsets of marketplace innovations that will follow hereafter and provide a blueprint of opportunities for businesses to utilize the Coral Sea cable.
“With hindsight to the prevailing global circumstances, I am optimistic that the case for digital initiatives would also complement the thriving resilience of our economy in the face of future pandemics and global emergencies,” he added.
Mr. Forau said the development of such initiative is consistent with the objective of promoting and enhancing digital channels for easy and wider access of the greater population to finance under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2 coordinated by the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.
“Further, the government’s efforts to develop the National Digital Economy Strategy 2021-2025 (NDES) will provide the roadmap for Solomon Islands in the next 5 years towards a digital economy and this initiative aligns to the NDES and will be a demonstration venture that will encourage the development of e-commerce activities in Solomon Islands,” he added.
He said the involvement of the private sector in such national efforts is vital and the support of the government plays an important role in financial sector development.
“The initiative also recognises youths that comprise the majority of our population who are creative and digital savvy and therefore, empowering them to be visible and engage in economic activities is an investment that the country should focus on.
“That said, as a regulator, CBSI prioritizes enabling environment while also ensuring that effective financial consumer protection is upheld by innovators when deploying responsible financial innovations in the market that should stimulate financial deepening,” he added.
He said this also calls for a concerted effort by the stakeholders towards innovations that will drive the adaption of the local economy and the adoption of digital transformation.
“Therefore, I wish to acknowledge the partners, UNCDF, UNDP, DFAT, Bulk Shop, and Youths for the support of this initiative.
“Thank you to MCILI for the youth hub initiative IUMI WAKA that has supported young entrepreneurs who could be one of those youth participants in this initiative.
“Thank you to technical adviser Sanjay Shah for willingly providing the expertise and technical support for the country’s initiatives.
“We are looking forward to working with you all in successfully implementing the Digital Marketplace initiative,” he added.