Central Bank projects access to digital currency to increase in Q1

Central Bank projects access to digital currency to increase in Q1
The Central Bank of The Bahamas. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL BANK)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Central Bank is projecting that access to The Bahamas’ digital currency will increase during the first quarter of 2021, as financial institutions continue to integrate the Sand Dollar into their mobile wallet platforms.

According to the regulator, to date, six firms have successfully completed the cybersecurity assessment and have been cleared to distribute the Sand Dollar within their proprietary mobile wallets. It also noted that an additional three firms have begun the cybersecurity assessment process and are likely to complete this evaluation in early 2021. This second group includes one credit union and one commercial bank.

“Businesses and individuals who have already selected a digital payments provider can expect that the Sand Dollar will be available within the same environment in which they have enrolled, once their providers complete systems upgrades,” said the regulator.

It further noted: “Early enrollment with a digital wallet provider ensures that the users will have immediate use of Sand Dollars as soon as the feature is enabled by their wallet provider. Sand Dollar-authorized financial institutions (AFI) are being encouraged to disclose their product development timelines. This will provide customers with awareness as to when this digital currency activation would be completed.

“All authorized wallet providers will offer interoperable Sand Dollar services. This means that both enrolled businesses and individuals would be able to send and receive funds with any other digital wallet once the transaction is in Sand Dollars. However, some payment providers have adopted a two-phased approach to product development. This would make the Sand Dollar available within their own networks before such networks are fully interoperable with third-party wallets. Cross-platform interoperability should also be achieved for such providers during the early months of 2021.”

The bank noted that during 2021, the Central Bank will accelerate public education around digital financial services. This campaign includes the launch of the www.SandDollar.bs website on January 4. The campaign will begin to intensify in the first quarter once interoperable digital currency access is enabled across multiple mobile wallet platforms. The regulator said that this month it will unveil more details on the regulatory environment for the digital currency, including minimum interoperability and financial inclusion standards.