As the pilot phase of Project Sand Dollar continues on Exuma, Central Bank Governor John Rolle said developers are using this opportunity to find ways to enhance the digital fiat currency before it is rolled out to the entire country and establish rules for its use.
“When we look at a central bank digital currency (CBDC) we’re not looking at regulations that say you must accept this, however we are looking at rules around that experience. So, for example, person to person, there are no costs in the movement of Bahamian dollar digital currency, person to person,” Rolle said.
“Businesses accepting Bahamian dollar digital payments – according to the financial institution providing the service – they should expect that eventually they would pay the equivalent of merchant fees at some level or the other but competitive, significantly competitive fees relative to what they may be encountering now. Because the intent of a reform such as the central bank digital currency is to make electronic transactions significantly more cost effective for the public.”
Already, the Central Bank has distributed the Sand Dollar platform to 1,200 residents and businesses on Exuma, however based on increasing requests from people that also want to participate, the Central Bank is preparing to provide at least 2,000 more enabled accounts on the island.
Rolle said with growing interest, the opportunity is ripe for Bahamian entrepreneurs to develop solutions surrounding the digital currency that he said can be quite valuable.
“Realizing value in this space is thinking about all the other experiences you can add to a wallet that individuals are prepared to pay for; also, the kinds of services you provide to commercial establishments around cash management, money management. And us as individuals will also have needs for those types of services. I like to use the example, if this is like cash, then all of those school-aged children would on some level or the other, have mobile wallets,” Rolle said.
“What is the value that you can create for a family to help them manage the way they give money to their kids and perhaps control how the kids use the funds after they leave the house? That’s a value that a private entrepreneur can provide. That’s a solution that the Central Bank will not provide and that is the case where a business can find a way using the fintech terminology to create value. So, we don’t want there to be just the fixation on the payment side of this ecosystem to derive value.”