By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
BASSETERRE, St Kitts — The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) as of this month will begin issuing the world’s first blockchain-based digital currency, the ECCB said in a press release.
The ECCB and the Barbados-based Fintech Company, Bitt Inc. (Bitt), have signed a contract to conduct a blockchain-issued central bank digital currency pilot within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. The contract was signed on 21 February at the ECCB’s Headquarters in Basseterre, St Kitts.
The original memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Bitt and the ECCB was signed in March 2018 for the creation of tis currency and service for the Eastern Caribbean.
The digital EC dollar, which is outlined as a project in the ECCB’s strategic plan for 2017-2021, will be distributed and used by licensed financial institutions and non-bank financial institutions in the ECCU. This ECCB CBDC pilot is the first of its kind and will involve a securely minted and issued digital version of the EC dollar (DXCD).
The DXCD will be used for financial transactions between consumers and merchants, including peer-to-peer transactions, all using smart devices. For example, an individual in St Kitts and Nevis will be able to send DXCD securely from his/her smartphone to a friend in Grenada in seconds – and at no cost to either party.
CEO of Bitt Inc., Rawdon Adams, said, “I thank the ECCB for choosing Bitt. Our mission is the practical application of cutting-edge technology to solve persistent financial problems. It is about a successful currency union building on its impressive record of financial stability, development and integration to deliver a quantum improvement to the lives of all its 630,000 citizens. Enhancing economic growth and the quality of life of ordinary people is the aim.”
Last year in February, 2018 Bitt began consultations with the government of Montserrat on a digital payment system for the country and signed a MOU with Bitt shortly afterwards for Bitt to provide a digital currency platform for the Bitt.
Montserrat is also a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, and also uses the ECCB currency as its national currency.
Also, in August of 2018, Bitt signed a MOU’s with Dutch colonies Curacao and St Maarten, to also provide them with a digital currency platform similar to that of Montserrat for the Bitt currency.
The pilot for the ECCB’s DXCD will be executed in two phases: development and testing, for about twelve months, followed by rollout and implementation in pilot countries for about six months.
The pilot will be executed in two phases: development and testing, for about twelve months, followed by rollout and implementation in pilot countries for about six months. As part of pilot implementation, the ECCB will ramp up its sensitisation and education initiatives to facilitate active public engagement throughout all member countries.
The ECCB is being technically supported on this project by Trinidad-based technology consulting firm, Pinaka Consulting Ltd.