Eastern Caribbean is digitized, helping people without a bank account

San Juan, Puerto Rico (AP) —Eastern Caribbean countries have created their own form of digital currency aimed at speeding up transactions and servicing people without bank accounts.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank said its “DCash” was the first such blockchain-based currency introduced by any of the world’s monetary unions, but some countries have similar existing ones. I have a system.

It became available on Wednesday under a one-year pilot program in four island nations: Saint Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

“(It) is a milestone in the history of financial instruments,” Bit CEO Brian Popelka said at a press conference broadcast online.

This system allows users to make payments using the downloaded app, whether they have a bank account or a smartphone.

Unlike cryptocurrencies, it has a fixed value associated with the existing Eastern Caribbean dollar issued by the official central bank and used in many of the regions.

By September at the latest, digital currencies will be available in Anguilla, Dominican Republic, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which form part of the eight island nations under the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, officials said. is.

The project aims to reduce cash cash use by 50% by 2025, said Sharmyn Powell, chairman of the bank’s FinTech Working Group.

“It’s safer, faster and cheaper,” Powell said.

Central Bank Governor Timothy NJ Antoine said he is using digital currencies to envision farmers, fishermen, small business owners, single mothers, people without bank accounts, and more.

“Payments are still too late and too expensive,” Antoine said of the current system. “We listened to you, and we delivered.”

Antoine said it’s difficult to steal digital cash and that it’s a safe way to make payments while avoiding pandemic contact.

Currently, one dollar in the Eastern Caribbean dollar is equivalent to 37 US dollars. All East Caribbean notes feature Queen Elizabeth II of England as the head of the Commonwealth.

The project has been more than two months since the European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Sveriges Riks and Swiss National Bank formed a group to study whether digital currencies should be issued.

The Bank of Sweden has already outsourced a pilot program. Meanwhile, China deployed digital currencies in four cities as part of its pilot program in April 2020, and has since expanded to more than 20 cities.

Dcash was created by Barbados-based fintech company Bitt in partnership with a central bank.