The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank plans to launch a pilot in 2020 of a blockchain-based digital version of the Eastern Caribbean dollar. This marks the first time that a central bank will have issued digital legal tender using the blockchain.
ECCB is teaming up with Overstock-owned, Barbados-based, blockchain firm Bitt to pilot the blockchain-based central bank digital currency (CBDC). The venture will see the issuance of a digital version of the Eastern Caribbean dollar that will be distributed and used by licensed banks and non-banks in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
"The journey of the ECCU has always been marked by bold initiatives and forays into the unknown to pioneer a path for the region's survival and success," says the ECCB FinTech Working Group which has been developing the initiative in partnership with Barbados fintech firm Bitt Inc.
Some of you may be wondering, what precisely, is the motivation of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in making this bold move? Simply put, it is shared prosperity for the citizens and residents of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union"
According to the FinTech Working Group: "The long-term strategic objective is to explore the suitability of a digital EC currency, underpinned by distributed ledger technology/blockchain, to help advance economic growth, resilience, competitiveness and financial inclusion in the ECCU."
Announcing the project, ECCB Governor Timothy N. J. Antoine emphasised that in contrast to previous CBDC research and experiments, the ECCB is going a step further. "This is not an academic exercise. Not only will the digital EC Dollar be the world's first digital legal tender currency to be issued by a central bank on blockchain, but this pilot is also a live CBDC deployment with a view to an eventual phased public rollout," he said.
"The pilot is part of the ECCB's Strategic Plan 2017-2021 which aims to help reduce cash usage within the ECCU by 50%, promote greater financial sector stability, and expedite the growth and development of our member countries. It would be a game-changer for the way we do business."
The governor detailed the history and reasoning behind the project. "Some of you may be wondering, what precisely, is the motivation of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in making this bold move? Simply put, it is shared prosperity for the citizens and residents of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union."
"For our region to improve our development prospects and performance, we must expedite our digital transition. To this end, regulators and innovators must work together. This pilot exemplifies such collaboration," he added.
The digital payments ecosystem, once implemented, will include a number of free services. Consumers need only to download Bitt's free mMoney mobile wallet app from Google Playstore and Apple Appstore to access the free services including: sending money to loved ones locally or within the ECCU, paying for goods and services, and adding funds to their wallet, and cashing-out of the wallet at participating merchant/tellers.
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