DPM: Nationwide rollout of Sand Dollar before end of the year

Sand Dollar, The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ digital currency, will be rolled out nationwide before the end of the year and possibly next month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest confirmed yesterday, adding that this will be an important development for financial inclusion in the country.

A Bloomberg article heralding the coming rollout of the digital fiat currency was being widely circulated yesterday. That article pegged the rollout for next month.

Guardian Business reached out to Central Bank Governor John Rolle for a comment yesterday, though none was received up to press time.

While Turnquest insisted the details of the Sand Dollar rollout come from the Central Bank, he said the government is excited about the project and its successful Bahamas-wide launch.

“This is an important and innovative development that puts The Bahamas on the leading edge of financial inclusion solutions for underserved and unserved remote communities and developing countries,” Turnquest said.

“The speed of transaction clearance, the security and cost effectiveness of the solution, should bring benefits to both the merchants and users of this digital fiat currency.

“For the government, it will allow for much less cost and risk of handling cash here in Nassau at our various cashier locations and reduce, and in some instances eliminate, the expense of dealing with islands where there is no bank or other legitimate means of conducting commerce in a secure manner.”

The Bloomberg article explained that the Central Bank already has $48,000 worth of Sand Dollars on its balance sheet and will only add new Sand Dollars as the demand grows and bills are retired, given that the Sand Dollar is the equivalent e-version of the Bahamian dollar.

“Even at that diminutive scale, the project puts the country at the forefront of a global race to create state-backed digital currencies, a goal shared by behemoths like China as well as Caribbean neighbors including Jamaica and Barbados,” the Bloomberg article states.

Sand Dollar was first launched in Exuma as a pilot and then in Abaco to assist with post-Hurricane Dorian transactions while banking services were not widely available.

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Chester Robards

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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