The British Virgin Islands is rolling out a national digital currency dubbed BVI~LIFE in partnership with blockchain startup LIFElabs.
The coin will be a stablecoin pegged 1:1 to the US dollar, which the BVI have used since 1959, and its use is expected to reduce transactional fees, increase transaction speed and be accessible to outsiders such as tourists.
The BVI prime minister Andrew Fahie believes that blockchain technology and the new digital currency will enable the territory to become a global financial hub.
The importance of blockchain technology and the significant benefits it offers the BVI, are paramount to the territory"
"The importance of blockchain technology and the significant benefits it offers the BVI, are paramount to the territory. We welcome this innovation with open arms," he said.
"Our partner, LIFElabs, has demonstrated with their proven track record that their ideology is not just mere words, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them on the rollout of BVI~LIFE, our digital currency," he added.
Besides the national currency, BVI will have an emergency fund and a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that relies on blockchain. LIFElabs is working on a Rapid Cash Response (RCR) fund that will provide aid in the case of a national emergency. For example, two years ago, Hurricane Irma hit BVI, causing $3bn in damages.
"LIFElabs was conceived with an emphasis on philanthropy, and our work with the British Virgin Islands exemplifies this perfectly. With the Rapid Cash Response fund, we're creating necessary tools for the government to defend against disaster and protect its citizens from the aftermath," the startup's CMO David Pugh-Jones said.
Despite being quite small, with a population of less than 35,000, the islands are one of the largest crypto markets by dollar volume. Bitfinex and Tether are some of the global crypto firms registered in the territory.