Wednesday 8 April, 2020

Tech Beach expands with FinTech conference in Bermuda

Tech Beach is expanding.

After four years in existence, the brand that brings together Silicon Valley’s best with Caribbean start-ups and corporate executives for Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica, is expanding its services to other islands.

From October 17 to 18, Tech Beach will host a FinTech conference in Bermuda.

Bermuda, explained Kyle Maloney, one of the Directors of Tech Beach, is known for its reinsurance industry, second largest in the world after New York and its offshore banking.

“FinTech is the utilisation of technology for financial transactions, so there are lots of innovation happening across the financial space and within our space we care about remittances, making transfers safe for the underbanked, driving to serve those people, so the FinTech industry is a driver for these spaces traditional banks have not gotten into efficiently,” explained Kyle.

Bermuda’s Premier, David Burt, holds a Masters of Science in Information Systems Development and co-founded HITCH Limited where he was the lead developer for the award-winning HITCH Mobile App which enabled Bermuda Residents to hail taxis.

With his strong bias towards technology and a drive to use it to grow and evolve what Bermuda is known for in line with current times, he is leading the charge for this FinTech conference which is intended to be an annual event.

Burt’s Minister of National Security, who will be one of the speakers at the event, attended Tech Beach Retreat last year and was blown away by the people in attendance and the sessions. He approached the organisers with the idea to host a Tech Beach in Bermuda.

“Tech Beach’s role is to bring together multiple stakeholders around the world,” said Nicolas, Kyle’s brother and a Director of Tech Beach.

“When Tech Beach began we definitely wanted it to be a platform for technology discussions and advancement in the Caribbean. We saw things being executed across the islands but we didn’t know which vertical or industry we would be involved in, we just want to see progress in general,” he said.

Tech Beach Retreat, Bermuda, is being done in partnership with the Bermuda Development Association and the Bermuda Tourism Agency as part of their overall Tech Week, which runs from October 14 to 18.

The two-day conference will see speakers such as Michael Terpin, founder of the Transform Group and BitAngels; Patrick Corker, Head of Treasury and Trade Finance at Circle, a world-leading crypto finance company; X. Eyee, a Blockchain Ambassador at Google; and Kome Emuh, a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.

There will also be a representative speaker from Republic Bank in Trinidad and Deltech Bank in the Bahamas.

Under the theme FinTech: Innovation Island, day one of the conference will hone in on the nuances of financial technology, while day two, dubbed Innovation Island, will address the transformation of industries.

“Our real goal is to ultimately hear about more business coming out of this for the companies we have partnerships within Bermuda. We have partnered with two law firms, Walkers Global and Appleby. These are local to Bermuda but are super global and the reason they are partnering with us is that they want to be at the forefront to be the law firm of choice in the space,” explained Kyle.

“The goal for us is to bring good people to the table to facilitate deals for Bermuda.”

Kyle said with people seeing the advantages of working with Tech Beach they have been branching out beyond the annual conference in Jamaica.

In August, they partnered with BP in Trinidad and with instructors from Facebook, Intel and Lucid Works to lead the NextGen coding camp with 62 students.

“That all came about because BP recognised the Tech Beach brand. We have gone from trying to get a speaker to people asking how can we partner with you guys, what does that look like?” said Kyle.

Google will be partnering with Tech Beach in Jamaica for a series of workshops this year.

The flagship conference, held annually in Montego Bay, will see the development of sub-segments of the event with a pathway for Women in Tech and one on Music.

“We don’t want to grow the conference to 5000 people so how do we grow the event but keep it intimate. We elected to create these focused pathways for different interest groups, we started with the start-ups, partnered with the Ministry of Planning in Trinidad who sponsored people to go Tech Beach. They had workshops and mentors with roundtable discussions. That worked out well and that led to more demand for the corporate community,” said Kyle.

“This year we want to place a bright light on the work women have been doing in tech. In this particular space, given the skillset women have, it is a way in which we can highlight in the region how much women are crushing it in the tech engineering field. We want to enourage more females to capitalise on that in the region.”

The Music pathway, the brothers explained, will focus on where artistes in the region are leaving money on the table. It will look at digital marketing, digital branding and Artificial Intelligence in music.

“Our mission is to be pathway for major brands in the world and our region, manifesting through the conference, sub-events and workshops and boot camps we are developing and all of that will lead to more investments and partnerships we want to see happen,” said Nicolas.

For those still contemplating attending Tech Beach, Kyle said it is more than just a conference.

“Our approach to building this is being an entrepreneur and understanding the challenges and building relationships. It goes beyond someone coming to be a speaker and it is about being involved, being part of the community.  The people that speak at Tech Beach become part of the community so when you are buying a ticket to Tech Beach you are buying a ticket to be part of this community,” he said.

Tech Beach, Jamaica will take place from December 5 to 7.

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