By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten — A delegation from CariNet, the Caribbean blockchain initiative, led by chairman Charles Xue, the director-general of World Blockchain Organization (WBO) and an earlier investor in CariNet, Frank Zheng, arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport in St Maarten over the weekend to launch a ten-day visit to the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, French St Martin, as well as Grenada.
They will also visit heads of governments to discuss CariNet direction, intentions and progress for the region.
Launched in early May 2018, CariNet, also known as the Caribbean Digital Finance and Free Trade System, is being billed as the primary source for developing blockchain technology to help Caribbean member countries build digital payment systems and digital financial infrastructure in order to build a platform for international trade.
In a press release, CariNet said that the traditional financial system in the Caribbean is a combination of an offshore financial system and the onshore financial system. The offshore financial system is very strong for political and geographical reasons. However, the onshore financial system shows more diversification, variation and disorder due to different infrastructure construction and management modes in those countries. Most countries have few banks with various governance and complex currencies.
The development of the offshore financial system is gradually being hindered by the restriction of tax avoidance policies by various countries after the financial crisis in 2009, which makes the relatively fragile onshore financial system even more vulnerable.
The shortage of banks and the variety of currencies and exchange methods have seriously affected the economic development of Caribbean countries that have positioned themselves as global resorts. Based on the objective demand, the idea of “financial integration of the Caribbean” has been widely accepted by the Caribbean countries.
However, facing a weak foundation and realistic financial environment, there has been no substantial improvement in “financial integration of the Caribbean” for many years.
Recently, Montserrat entered into a heads of agreement with Barbadian cryptocurrency provider, Bitt, to provide digital financial services for the small island territory.
The Bahamas has also been given a green light to proceed with blockchain and cryptocurrency development, having had information sessions on blockchain being conducted by the Central Bank of The Bahamas; in addition to having those efforts endorsed by the government for the upcoming, 2018/2019 fiscal year.
Originally launched in the Cayman Islands, the CariNet Project is said to be a digital finance and free trade system for the Caribbean area, initiated by the Caribbean Free Trade Zone.
The project will establish a blockchain payment and digital finance infrastructures, construct a blockchain intelligent international trading platform and attract blockchain industry companies’ registration. It will enable the Caribbean area to become a global digital financial centre and free trade zone in the new era, and create new power for economic growth within the area.
During the upcoming days, the CariNet delegation’s visit to the various Caribbean nations represents the official beginning of CariNet’s landing in the Caribbean.
The official digital token of the Caribbean FTA CariCash, together with digital wallets, blockchain ATM and POS machines will be deployed shortly thereafter. These blockchain infrastructures will firstly solve the local payment and settlement problems and lay the foundation for the financial system upgrading in Caribbean countries.
The first large-scale application of the blockchain industry at the level of multi-country alliance and the new history of blockchain development will be launched.