Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 12, 2019 (SKNIS): In what has been hailed a “historic undertaking”, The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) led by Governor Timothy Antoine launched today (March 12,2019) a securely minted and issued digital version of the EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollar (DXCD) as part of a pilot project designed to bring “shared prosperity for the citizens and residents of the ECCU (Eastern Caribbean Currency Union).”
The ECCB Digital Currency Pilot Project is estimated to last 18 months and cost about eight (8) million dollars from start to implementation throughout the entire ECCU, starting initially with three countries.
Speaking at the launch at the ECCB Headquarters in Basseterre, St. Kitts, Governor Antoine, who was accompanied by BITT CEO Rawdon Adams, said “transformation is not possible without digital disruption”.
In March 2018, the ECCB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BITT, a Barbados-based Financial Technology company that utilizes blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate secure peer-to-peer transactions with seamless mobile money across a suite of BITT’s Software and Mobile Applications. According to Governor Antoine, ECCB decided to partner with BITT for several reasons including their shared values for innovation for development and their vision for a digitally integrated region.
According to BITT, its mission is “To financially empower everyone and provide infrastructure to support a digital financial ecosystem throughout the Caribbean, that will stimulate economic growth and financial access for this and future generations.”
“In our strategic plan 2017-2021, we made the case for socio-economic transformation and issued a clarion call for all of us to have collective action to transform the ECCU together,” Governor Antoine said, while adding that if the central bank is to “avoid a failure of imagination as we craft the way forward, we must never forget that all the technology that we now use and frankly take for granted, including our smartphones, were once mere ideas.”
“For our region to develop, we must expedite our digital transition. To that end, regulators and innovators must work together…the transformation of the ECCU necessitates that we make a shift and a leap. We must move from our comfort zone to a challenge zone, but we must not stop there; from there, we must move into a creative zone. In this zone, we are obliged to challenge assumption, examine our cultural hang-ups and stretch our minds to enhance or embrace new possibilities,” he said.
“The ECCB does not intend to eliminate the use of cash. Cash has its convenience and will continue to play a very important role in our economy. That said, the ECCU is committed to reduce our region’s use of cash and cheques,” Governor Antoine added.
The Governor assured sceptics that digital currency is different to that of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Highlighting the high internet penetration rate in the ECCU, the Governor said that the digital currency will help to alleviate the high cost associated with banking services across the region.
“The cost of cash services is extremely high. Invariably, these high costs are passed on to the consumer,” he said.
The ECCB will conduct a sensitization and education drive about the DXCD throughout the ECCU.