The Independent Financial Centre of the Americas (IFCA) is the world's first privately operated and independently regulated international financial centre. It was officially established on 10 March 2006 and is being built and operated in the city of Guayacanes in the Dominican Republic.
The Centre is the result of three years research by a group of Dominican and Latin American investors into other financial centres from around the world. It will operate from a USD S850 million purpose-built business facility on a 17 square kilometer greenfield site, bordering the Caribbean coast. The site is midway between Santo Domingo and the Casa de Campo resort and will include office space, a conference centre, independent power generators and a private landing strip. The IFCA will house private and commercial banks and an electronic exchange, called LAIFEX, to clear and settle emerging market debt and other tradable products.
Swiss-Dominican entrepreneur Gaetan Boucher, the current President of the IFCA commented:
The Independent Financial Centre of the Americas is being purpose built from the ground up: the legislation, regulation, operating systems and physical infrastructure have been meticulously planned and researched. We are applying the best practice of other financial centres, to create a new model for the 21st century, which responds positively to greater regulatory scrutiny and appeals to market participants operating in an increasingly innovative marketplace. The Government of the Dominican Republic appreciates the benefits our model will generate for the country. It also understands that success is dependent on the dynamism and adaptability of a private enterprise.
The Centre plans to support a wide range of banking services. The Regulatory Authority will grant licenses for other regulated financial services business including investment, commercial and private banking as well as asset management. The Information technology (IT) platform has been designed to underpin all banking transactions to increase the speed and cost efficiency for institutions and their clients.
The Centre will house a settlement and clearing centre, called LAIFEX: the Latin American International Financial Exchange. LAIFEX will facilitate primary and secondary debt trading both regionally and globally. It is a private exchange where members can apply for seats. The custom-built IT platform for the Centre could also support a regional stock exchange. The rationale behind the Clearing (finance) and settlement centre is the USD 2.94 trillion of Latin American and Caribbean debt traded globally in 2004, accounting for 63.2% of total emerging markets debt traded worldwide that year.