In a press release issued at the end of September, the Central Bank of the Bahamas announced the “gradual national phase-out” of its central bank digital currency, the “Sand Dollar”.
With a government and public services that will accept Sand Dollar payments as early as 2021, the Bahamas joins a long list of countries that are experimenting with technology that has the potential to address inclusion concerns and provide unbanked citizens with access to a range of financial services.
Aimed at individuals, the Sand Dollar project will begin on October 20 in the Exumas and Abacos Islands. This initiative is intended as a continuation of the Bahamas Payment Systems Modernization Initiative (PSMI), which began in the early 2000s and will be carried out in several phases through Authorized Financial Institutions (AFI).
Initially, the deployment of this digital central bank currency will focus on the private sector such as commercial banks or credit companies, and will be limited to only three types of accounts, all of which will be subject to the KYC process.
Then, starting in the first quarter of 2021, the deployment will be intensified to enable the Bahamian government and public utilities to accept the Sand Dollar.
This initiative aims to provide greater financial inclusion to the people of The Bahamas, including improved access to payment services and other financial services.
The Sand Dollar project will also be based on a broad marketing and prevention campaign to better educate residents about cybersecurity and to enable Bahamians to learn the right financial behaviors to adopt.
In other regions of the world, we can also cite the laudatory words of Christine Lagarde last week, following the ECB’s October report on a digital Euro, or the promising signs of the Digital Yuan in China, which has already been used in 3.13 million transactions, corresponding to 162 million dollars in transactions during its pilot program between April and August.
It would appear that financial institutions around the world are now taking this technology very seriously. The excitement is such that, Jay Clayton, the SEC’s chief executive, announced last week that it would not be surprising if stocks all became tokenized in the future.
So all of these initiatives are great news for cryptocurrencies and the blockchain as a whole. For example, the CBDCs will make it easier for holders of crypto-assets to bridge to cash, and will probably simplify access to crypto-assets for many people.
It seems that it is only a matter of a few years before CBDCs are born, and that cryptocurrencies holders will be able to easily exchange their cryptocurrencies against any kind of assets (fiat, stocks…) using the blockchain.