Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019
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Turnquest: Draft blockchain legislation presented to Cabinet by next week

Draft blockchain legislation should be presented to Cabinet by next week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Guardian Business yesterday.

This comes as The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) prepares to host its second blockchain seminar, where it will update Bahamians on the Payments System Modernization Initiative and “Project Sand Dollar”, this country’s digital currency project.

A press release from the CBOB on the seminar explained that the bank will also “highlight broader domestic reforms that the central bank is targeting for the payments system”.

A digital currency has been touted as the technological advancement that could usher in greater financial inclusion, while reducing the expensive and less secure reliance on cash transactions.

“Blockchain applications of financial technology or fintech solutions are one of many innovations that could impact the delivery of Bahamian financial services,” the release notes.

“The seminar will provide an update on international regulatory developments in this space and evolving standards that could also affect The Bahamas. Joel Telpner, a leading international expert, will participate in a fireside chat on this topic.

“Among the lead speakers, Senator Kwasi Thompson, minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister, will share information on The Bahamas’ e-government initiative. This transformation is expected to provide a public sector infrastructure that also supports the mobile, digital financial services space.”

Last year local blockchain expert, Deep Minds Chief Executive Officer Jason Leach, told Guardian Business that The Bahamas has to be the first to pioneer and pilot a palatable framework for cryptocurrency exchanges in order to leap ahead of the global market.

According to Leach, if The Bahamas does not act fast enough to become a global leader in blockchain and cryptocurrency, the country will simply be playing “catch up” in terms of regulation and framework production.

The CBOB release states that a panel representing firms from both the public and private sectors will talk about ways in which “fintech innovations could apply in the delivery of local financial services, the importance of the telecommunications infrastructure in the modernization of the space, cybersecurity matters and public education”.

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