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Central Bank eyeing fully digital Family Islands payment service by 2020

The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) is eyeing a fully digital payment service for the Family Islands by 2020, revealed Central Bank Governor John Rolle, as both the bank regulator and central government move to use new technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrency to change the way government and the private sector make transactions.

Rolle, speaking at a recent event about blockchain, said the Central Bank has taken an active role in promoting the modernization of the payment system in The Bahamas.

Rolle said domestic and international pressures have strained the commercial banking infrastructure, which has downsized, due to operating cost pressures.

He added that pressures created by electronic banking have decreased the network of commercial banks.

Family Islands have been deprived of commercial banks for years and now commercial banks are pulling branches from those islands, leaving the citizens without ways to complete transactions.

Rolle said it is the Central Bank’s intention to promote modernization of the electronic banking sector for the sake of the Family Islands.

He added that The Bahamas could also see the introduction of a digital version of the Bahamian dollar.

However he noted: “People need to be safe and comfortable in going into the digital space.”

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, who also addressed the event, said the government has been speaking to the banks about how to get banking back to the Family Islands. He said the pull-out of commercial banks has left family islanders moving money through different services.

Turnquest explained that blockchain has been at the forefront of the Ministry of Finance’s exploration into digitizing financial and government services.

“We are going to have to make that leap,” he said.

He added that the government will support private sector initiatives in the digital currency and payment services space, and he asked that all stakeholders get onboard to share their expertise.

 

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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