The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) launched its digital currency, called Sand Dollar, Friday on Exuma, with Governor of CBOB John Rolle explaining that when the digital currency is distributed nationally after its six-month integration period, all residents of The Bahamas will have access to financial services.
“Above all, this is a financial inclusion initiative,” Rolle said.
“All residents of The Bahamas, whether they are in Exuma, Crooked Island, Inagua or any other island, should have access to the same level of convenience and access to financial services. In our many sparsely populated islands, the only feasible way to do this is electronically or digitally.”
Rolle explained that very soon the mobile phone will become like an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) thanks to Project Sand Dollar’s digitization of Bahamian currency.
He contended that Sand Dollars are not a cryptocurrency.
Rolle said Bahamians will be able to send and receive money from anyone or anywhere in The Bahamas regardless of which banking institution they choose to use.
And he added that every Bahamian involved in the trade of a good or service will be able to have access to the technology through their mobile devices.
“The Sand Dollar payment network takes us significantly in that direction,” he said.
“Bahamians will be able to make deposits to their bank account from their mobile wallet.
“Sand Dollars will have the look feel and convenience of cash in every respect.”
According to Rolle, Bahamians will also be able to open bank accounts remotely thanks to centrally available data, and he explained that as there is no restriction on who can hold cash, there will be no restriction on who can hold Sand Dollars.
“Anyone in The Bahamas can have a Sand Dollar wallet,” Rolle said.
Rolle said that three-quarters of the businesses on Exuma have already shown an interest in signing up for the pilot Sand Dollar project, and many of the commercial banks are already participating.
Founder of Omni Financial Services Dr. Johnathan Rodgers, who was also on hand on Exuma, explained that the digital currency could mean less robberies, quicker transaction times and less expensive transactions for merchants.
Also, according to Rodgers, as merchant fees come down as a result of using the digital currency, so could prices.
“In some places merchant fees are as high as five percent. There could possibly be a five percent reduction in costs.”
He added that the system could help to bring an estimated about $1 billion of “mattress or pillow money” that is being hoarded and hidden, into the economy.
“Now people can put this money in their wallet,” Rodgers said.