Bahamas launches Sand Dollar, the world’s first official CBDC

A small Caribbean island nation has overtaken economic giants to launch the world’s first official central bank digital currency. The Bahamas launched the Sand Dollar officially after over two years of pilot tests.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) announced the official launch of the CBDC on social media.

CBOB has partnered with a number of local financial institutions on the rollout, including electronic payment firm Kanoo, mobile money company Cash N Go and e-commerce platform MobileAssist.

With the Sand Dollar, the Bahamas is seeking to “advance more inclusive access to regulated payments and other financial services for under-serviced communities and socio-economic groups as well as to reduce service delivery costs and increase transactional efficiency for financial services across the Bahamas.”

In line with serving the underbanked, the CBOB has developed the Sand Dollar to be transferrable via mobile phones, making it easy to use for the residents. It’s usable even while offline, further making it a good payment choice for those without an internet connection.

As CoinGeek reported, the offline availability was critical during the CBOB’s development of the CBDC. The regulator’s head of banking Cleopatra Davis revealed that the island nation’s proneness to natural disasters makes this feature crucial. For instance, when Hurricane Dorian hit the island, most people had no access to an internet connection.

Hurricane Dorian, which killed over 70 and destroyed billions worth of property, was a driving factor for the quick adoption of the Sand Dollar. The CBDC was one of the ways the country sought to ‘full-proof’ its financial system against such destruction in the future.

The CBOB stated at the time, “Sand Dollar’s mobile phone functionality will mean that the financial recovery aspects of a hurricane can progress more quickly and more safely than would otherwise be the case.”

The Sand Dollar will be accepted by any merchant with a central bank-approved e-Wallet on their mobile device. It will also charge ‘negligible’ transactions fees, the regulator claims on its website.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

See also: CoinGeek Live panel on Better Payments: Improving the Consumer Experience with Bitcoin

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