Chairman of the Small Business Association (SBA) Neil Corbin is calling for cyber security legislation to protect consumers and businesses, as Barbados continues its push for greater use of digital transactions.
He said while the Data Protection Act which was passed in 2019 and proclaimed in early 2021 was welcomed, lawmakers must go further.
“An enabling business environment is required to flourish beyond the Data Protection Act,” Corbin told the opening of the SBA’s State of the Industry conference earlier this week.
“Where are we on issues of cyber security and cyber crime? At present, there is no requirement for businesses to report cyber attacks. Legislative improvements are needed to protect both consumers and businesses operating in the digital space.”
“With the entrance of online payment platforms in the market, primarily due to the lack of e-commerce facilitation by commercial banks, we need to ensure that a business environment is one that allows for transparent, yet safe and user-friendly operation of digital assets,” he added.
Corbin acknowledged that “several solutions” would be required to improve the business climate for the small business sector and protect them and customers while encouraging greater use of technology.
In addition to legislative improvements in the digital space, he said, the Government needs to speed up its multi-million-dollar Smart City build-out, as he pointed out that reliable and safe access to broadband and Internet service was critical for businesses.
“We welcome the announcement of the Government to establish smart cities, as this initiative will enable business owners the access required to do business online wherever they go,” said Corbin.
“This must be fast-tracked to enable the entry in the market of entrepreneurs and small business owners to innovate, engage consumers on the go and facilitate actual trade of goods and services globally,” he said.
The Smart City initiative, which was started in late 2019, includes the deployment of free public Wi-Fi in Bridgetown, computer-controlled parking and traffic management, and the use of mobile apps for self-guided tours. So far, only some parts of the intended areas of The City have been outfitted with free Wi-Fi.
Corbin said while firms had no choice over the last two years but to establish some form of digital presence in order to maintain contact with consumers and suppliers, they “still have some distance to go in being tech savvy”.
He said there was a need for greater investment in digital businesses, as he expressed concern that financial technology was still underutilised.
“We need to promote financial technology and facilitate expansion in this area as far as the overall growth strategy for our economy,” he added.