Thousands of Sand Dollars put into circulation thanks to weekend festival

The Sand Dollar had a big showing over the weekend, being the only form of payment accepted at this year’s International Culture, Wine and Food Festival (ICWFF), with at least $200,000 more of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) being put into circulation, Governor of The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) John Rolle told Guardian Business.

While it is not yet known how much Sand Dollars were transacted at the two-day event, hundreds of people passed through the first ICWFF to happen in two years using only mobile and NFC technology to transact purchases of food and drinks.

Keith Davies, co-founder of Kanoo Pays, the official wallet company of the event, said many lessons were learned on Saturday when many patrons chose to use bands loaded with Sand Dollars to interact with the festival vendors rather than use their mobile phones. The use of the bands caused longs lines at the entrance and at the stations where cash had to be exchanged to load Sand Dollars onto the bands. However, Davies said Kanoo implemented swift changes overnight that drastically changed the flow of lines at the event on Sunday.

“On Saturday, which was the first day for a first-ever all central bank digital currency event, we had a few challenges, but at the end of the day we were still able to achieve a lot in terms of doing things for the first time in The Bahamas,” he said.

“A number of persons who are quite tech savvy and comfortable with technology were able to manage their way through.”

He added that things ran more smoothly because the decision was made to allow patrons to use any authorized digital wallet available to make payments.

Rolle said the CBOB also learned lessons from the event and will continue to focus on educating the public on the use of the Sand Dollar.

“Cash top-up during events will become less important in the future, because we are going to increase the means of acquiring funds via bank transfers as well. The number of outlets that accept Sand Dollar will increase,” said Rolle.

“The authorized financial institutions have already onboarded the two major food stores in New Providence. We now have before us the task of educating the frontline employees in those food establishments. In the meantime, we have completed the core developments to allow Sand Dollars to be deposited back into the banks. The authorized financial institutions are now being asked to tailor their platforms to make this direct convenience available to the public.”

Davies said Kanoo was able to make changes to its application and other processes to fix the hiccups experienced on Saturday. He said they compiled all of the vendor and merchant complaints and provided solutions and fixes to those problems.

“We worked through it overnight, my team did not sleep,” he said, adding that they saw “tremendous” increases in transaction volumes on Sunday.

He praised the ICWFF team for taking advantage of the digital solutions and making it work.

“Obviously there are lessons learned and we will definitely provide a report to the Central Bank about Sand Dollar usage. We’ll provide a report to the organizers about what we saw so that in the future… persons that we provide the service to can benefit from lessons that we learned.”

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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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