Bahamas seeks international use of Sand Dollar digital currency

The Bahamas is already eyeing the international use of its Sand Dollar digital currency, local reports have revealed.

Sand Dollar launched on October 20 by the Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBOB). Already, officials at the bank are looking at integrating it into the global financial system, the Nassau Guardian reports.

Speaking during a Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation virtual event, the bank’s manager of electronic solutions Bobby Chen stated, “At the moment, it is currently only used in a domestic setting, but eventually we are working on a solution that will make it interoperable with other global currencies.”

Chen also revealed the first six authorized financial institutions that the bank granted the ability to provide the Sand Dollar to the public—Mobile Assist, Sun Cash, Money Maxx, Cash and Go, Kanoo and Omni Financial Group.

If the Sand Dollar becomes a global currency, the Bahamas will have a first mover advantage over several bigger economies that have been exploring CBDCs for years now. However, there’s no guarantee for the Bahamas that other countries will be open to using a CBDC, especially in light of recent reports from countries such as Japan and Australia claiming that they don’t see the need for a CBDC currently.

During the event, the head of banking at the CBOB Cleopatra Davis revealed that one of the unique features that sets the Sand Dollar apart is its API card-less onboarding.

She stated, “Some of the central strategies around Sand Dollar is the API card-less onboarding. This became extremely important during the time of COVID-19 because we realized it’s not business as we know it prior to COVID-19. So, mobility and face-to-face may not be as easily accessible. So, through the API card-less onboarding you’re going to be able to have access to Sand Dollar without physically entering a business place to do so.”

The digital currency is also usable offline, a critical feature for an island that’s prone to natural disasters. The latest was Hurricane Dorian which devastated the island, leaving 70 dead and damaging property worth $3.4 billion.

Sand Dollar was designed with such situations in mind, Davis told the audience. As such, the citizens can still transact even when there’s no electricity or cell phone network.

She added, “Also, the need to be interoperable with other wallets. That’s a key strategy that we’re working on as well as the RTGS/ACH integration, which would allow the movement of Sand Dollar to and from your bank account, which would then convert to fiat as it hit your bank account.”

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