Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 23, 2020 (SKNIS): In his contribution to the Bill entitled the Virtual Assets Bill, 2020, Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Shawn Richards stated that the regulation of virtual assets will prevent acts such as theft, fraud, money laundering, Ponzi schemes and terrorist financing.

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the term ‘virtual asset’ refers to any digital representation of value that can be digitally traded, transferred or used for payment. It does not include the digital representation of fiat currencies. The FATF standards ensure that virtual assets are treated fairly, applying the same safeguards as the financial sector.

The Deputy Prime Minister noted that while the usage of virtual assets in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis might be very small at the moment “this is a government that is forward looking and as such we have to ensure that we are leaders within the region and we put in place the necessary regulations and framework to ensure that when we see an increase in the usage of virtual assets here in the federation that the proper legislation is being effected.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richards stated that investors would want to invest in the federation as soon as the legislation has been passed and gazetted. “They will have the ability to do so rather than waiting on the government or rather than the federation being left behind in terms of the usage of virtual assets,” he said.

He noted that the facts show that virtual assets are currently being used around the world. Deputy Prime Minister Richards added that “Just as they are being used, Mr. Speaker, we too can be affected by the usage of virtual assets and in terms of bitcoins.”

He stated that it is worthy to note that one of the reasons that persons are now moving to virtual assets is because of the ease of usage.

“Whether it is to purchase items from far away such as Japan, Dubai, wherever it is, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the cost of using virtual assets in many instances can actually be cheaper than using the currency that we currently utilize,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister noted that when necessary regulations are in place, persons will have more confidence in these transactions.

He stated that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has already indicated that it intends to move into virtual currency and is actively pursuing it.

The Virtual Assets Bill, 2020, which is a Bill to provide for the regulation of Virtual Assets Business from St. Christopher and Nevis and with persons from St. Christopher and Nevis and for related matters, was passed in the Honourable House on Thursday, January 23, 2020.