Following the launching of the Financial Literacy Campaign on VAITOS Act 2021, held on 11th August 2022, at the Financial Services Commission House, Ebene, with the presence of the Hon. Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mahen Kumar Seerrutun, the Chairperson of the Financial Services Commission and First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, Mr Mardayah Kona Yerukunondu, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Financial Services and Good Governance, Mr Sarwansingh Purmessur, the Chief Executive of the Financial Services Commission, Mr Dhanesswurnath Thakoor and the representatives of the Industry. The Hon. Minister, in his keynote speech stated that the financial sector in the world including Mauritius is undergoing a metamorphosis.
He took the example of the caterpillar. To start the process, a caterpillar’s body releases hormones which trigger drastic changes to its cells, and even some behavioral changes such as spinning the cocoon that protects it during its transformation. When the metamorphosis is complete, the caterpillar which once was an unsightly crawling worm transforms into a beautiful flying insect. He stated that just like the hormones that trigger the metamorphosis of the caterpillar, technology has triggered the transformation of the financial industry. It has allowed firms to introduce a wide variety of innovative products and services which have enhanced the customer experience and helped achieve better investor outcomes.
He thanked Mr James Burnie, Partner of Gunnercooke who shared his precious knowledge through a pre-recorded video on the Act during the event.
He stated that the new piece of innovative legislation has been achieved through the collaboration of various agencies, regulators and financial institutions. The event aimed at sensitising and further informing the industry and the public at large on the implication of VAITOS Act through a series of financial literacy initiatives (such as video clips, radio spot, bill board, brochure and posters).
He further stated that the VAITOS Act was passed by the National Assembly on 10 December 2021, and came into force by proclamation on 7 February last. With this achievement, Mauritius became one of the 1st countries in the Eastern and Southern African Region having adopted a comprehensive legislation on Virtual Asset and Initial Token Offering Services. The Act provides a legislative framework for both virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and initial token offerings (ITOs). This has been developed with the technical support of the World Bank and in consultation with the secretariat of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) which ensured that it is in line with international standards.
He further commented that Mauritius is pursuing its objectives to be a regional FinTech Hub for Africa. As per the World Bank, a Fintech Hub needs to demonstrate 4 key characteristics:
(1) A comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for fintech,
(2) Skilled labour in fintech
(3) Access to capital for start-ups and
(4) Capacity to drive demand through financial inclusion.
He stated that the necessary legal framework is now in place, his Ministry in collaboration with the FSC and the Financial Services Institute Ltd have already come up a series of training courses in fintech to make sure to have a skilled workforce in the fintech sector. He also stated his Ministry is taking responsibility to make sure to have the right safeguards to understand and mitigate the risks and as such a risk assessment exercise, both at national level and sectorial level, to identify, assess and understand the money laundering and terrorism financing risks with a view to protect our fellow citizen is being carried out.
He also mentioned that the operationalizing the Virtual Assets Observatory Committee is is in process which consists of Supervisory Authorities, Law Enforcement Authorities and other concerned institutions. This Committee is mandated to report on the identified trends and pattern of Virtual asset transactions and activities, and make recommendations to mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with the Virtual Assets.
He pointed out that Mauritius is now compliant or largely compliant with 39 out of 40 FATF Recommendations and maintaining this momentum to further uphold the financial eco-system.