The Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBB) has introduced a digital version of its dollar which it said will help to include more of its people in the financial process.
The preliminary phase of the initiative, referred to as Project Sand Dollar, began in Exuma this month and will move to Abaco during the first six months of 2020, said the Bank which added that the project is a continuation of the Bahamian Payments System Modernisation Initiative (PSMI) which started in the early 2000s.
The sand dollar is also the name assigned to the central bank digital currency.
“The public though will need more assurances around the safety of conducting online transactions. The digital currency design and public education will tackle these issues.”– The Central Bank of The Bahamas
Among the objectives of the project are to improve the inclusion of Bahamians in the financial sector and to make domestic payment systems more efficient and while making access non-discriminatory, particularly to those in rural areas.
“Although average measures of financial development and access in The Bahamas are high by international standards, pockets of the population are excluded because of the remoteness of some communities outside of the cost effective reach of physical banking services,” the CBB said.
The Bank on Tuesday said there is room to improve knowledge and awareness of financial products and responsible financial behaviour based on recent surveys under its financial literary campaign.
What’s more, it said response from Exuma shows that there is high mobile phone usage which indicates that a greater portion of the population would be willing to use digital financial services. “The public though will need more assurances around the safety of conducting online transactions. The digital currency design and public education will tackle these issues.”
It added that “More onerous customer due diligence standards for AML/CFT international tax compliance have also resulted in forms of exclusion, including more recent responses to tighter “know your customer” (KYC) systems introduced to preserve international correspondent banking relationships.”
In response to these issues, the Central Bank said it is hastening reforms in the payments system and using digital payments infrastructure to make banking services available to the entire population.
However, while the benefits of a digital currency could include potential suppression of economic costs related cash use, the CBB said much of its benefits are “unquantifiable”. As a result, it, along with and non-banking payment services providers, would take on the role of promoting digital payments adoption.