Project Sand Dollar is twice the size of what the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) has intended the pilot digital currency program to be, the bank’s Governor John Rolle said yesterday, adding that there is a list of 2,000 Exumians interested in being a part of the pilot project.
The project is expected to grow, Rolle said, as the bank looks to expand the digital currency to the Hurricane Dorian-affected island of Abaco in order to promote more commerce, where centers of commerce were swept away by storm surge and strong winds.
According to Rolle, who spoke to the media during a press conference at the CBOB, while the bank wants to expand the pilot project, it continues to do it in a controlled manner.
“We’re continuing to study the impact of the Sand Dollar in Exuma,” Rolle said.
“What we do know at this stage is the size of the pilot is twice what we had intended, meaning that we had intended that we would have a pilot of 500, but before the pilot was launched we relaxed those limits.
“Right now there are about 1,200 individual digital wallets, and 2,000 more interested individuals on Exuma who want to participate in the pilot. We will satisfy those needs fairly soon. The reason why I say ‘satisfy fairly soon’ is because we have a very controlled process. They need to get the Central Bank’s smart card that activates their Sand Dollar wallet.
“Generally speaking the level of interest on the island is very strong.”
Business owners who have been unhappy with the fees charged by banks at their credit card terminals are excited that the Sand Dollar project could bring them some financial relief at the register.
But for now, Rolle said there are no fees being charged to the customer and the eventual conversation about fees will have to be had between businesses and payment service providers.
“There will be fees eventually for businesses, but our expectation is that on average they would be much lower than some of the fees that they currently encounter,” he said.
“So a big part of this is really to make certain that the cost moving payments through the system decreases.
“The financial institutions, including the payment service providers, will have to play a role in terms of how they negotiate those rates with businesses, but those rates at this point for the consumer is off the table in terms of having that direct transaction cost passed to the consumer.”