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Central Bank Digital Currencies Emerging in the Caribbean

Jamaica’s Central Bank Partners with Ireland-based Tech Firm to Launch CBDC 
The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) has announced they will pilot a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) beginning in May of this year. The BoJ is working with Ireland-based technology firm eCurrency Mint Incorporated to support this pilot project. Collectively, BoJ and eCurrency will test a CBDC solution in the Bank’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox for a pilot from May to December 2021. During the pilot stage, eCurrency Mint will assist the central bank in testing the necessary protocols. 
In early 2022, when the full national rollout commences, eCurrency will also serve as Jamaica’s CBDC provider. The BoJ CBDC will be available for both individuals and businesses to act as a payment means. Similar to many countries in the Caribbean, Jamaica has rather liberal blockchain and crypto laws amongst regulated entities. In April of last year, it was announced that the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) had signed an agreement with Blockstation to develop a safe and regulated ecosystem to trade digital assets and cryptocurrencies. 

ECCU Digital Currency Goes Live 
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has partnered with Barbados-based fintech company Bitt to launch DCash, a CBDC designed to be interoperable with digital currencies globally. ECCB is the primary financial institution for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The plans for an ECCU CBDC were first announced in March 2019. 
Currently, DCash is available in four of the currency union’s member states including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis. As part of the launch, Timothy Antoine the Governor of ECCB, demonstrated the first-ever live DCash cross-border transaction. During this demonstration, he sent 100 DCash dollars from ECCB headquarters in St. Kitts to DCash wallet holders in the other three countries included in the launch. 
The ECCB will reportedly be able to mint, issue, redeem and burn DCash using Bitt’s CBDC management protocols. DCash will support both business and private transactions as merchants and vendors register for the DCash Merchant App. 
Following the public rollout, the collective goal of Bitt and the ECCB is to work towards full incorporation of DCash into the financial infrastructure for the initial four participating nations over the next year. In addition, Bitt and the ECCB plan to expand DCash to the remaining four countries within the currency union, including Aguilla, Commonwealth of Dominica, the Grenadines, Montserrat and Saint Vincent. 
The Bahamas’ Sand Dollar Reaches Commercial Rollout
The Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBoB) has announced that their CBDC, the Sand Dollar will soon reach complete interoperability amongst wallet providers. Upon completing the necessary cybersecurity assessments, the authorised financial institutions (AFIs) that have adopted the bank’s app have now been approved to partake. 
Launched in October 2020, the Sand Dollar was the first CBDC globally to proceed past the pilot stage. Upon release, the Sand Dollar was accessible to all Bahamian citizens, while the commercial banking integration was subject to a phased rollout. According to the CBoB, the completion of this integration is approaching.
Through the Bahamas Automated Clearing House, wallets and bank deposit accounts will be linked which will enable the transfer of funds in both directions. The Sand Dollar is pegged to the value of the Bahamian dollar, which is the equivalent of one U.S. dollar. 
To date, nine institutions have been approved to operate as CBDC issuers, including four money transmission businesses, three payment services institutions, one credit union and one commercial bank. Once these entities are interoperable, the Sand Dollar will be used more efficiently and distributed over a range of different applications. 
Brandon Caruana
Brandon Caruana

Recognized for building bridges between technology and business divisions, Brandon forges successful working relationships with all levels of team members, encouraging communication and cooperation to effectively provide easy to use systems which improve efficiency and increase profitability.

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