DIGITAL CURRENCY: Central Bank pushing for wider uptake of Sand Dollar on Family Islands

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Central Bank is aggressively working toward integrating more Bahamians onto its Sand Dollar platform, according to Central Bank Governor John Rolle, who flagged the bank’s considered focus on Family Island residents.

Rolle noted those residents continue to face banking challenges as several brick-and-mortar institutions have closed branches over the last two years.

“Our focus with the Sand Dollar is to provide better linkages between the community and the existing banking sector as a means to finally address some of the issues that persist in the family islands around the costly process of getting cash in and out; as well as the persistent inconveniences that individuals have in terms of interacting with banks for some of the services which still contain a physical element,” Rolle said.

At the end of 2021, Rolle revealed that 20,000 individuals were actively using Sand Dollar; which accounts for some $300,000 dollars in digital currency in circulation.

Rolle says there is great progress being experienced with the rollout of the digital currency, but emphasized that more must be done to “expand the merchant base so that there is more spending across the platform”.

With more merchants on board, accepting the Bahamian digital currency, Rolle said more meaningful statistics on the usage of Sand Dollars in circulation can be gathered.

He continued: “Our focus, in these island communities, is ensuring that there is sufficient of an ecosystem so that persons who have monies in these mobile wallets can use those funds to spend within the community.”

While the Central Bank works toward getting more merchants on board; Rolle said the ease of onboarding new Sand Dollar users is proving quite promising for the growth of the digital platform.

He pointed out that there are individuals in Family Island communities who have minimal access to the identification required to open a traditional bank account. Rolle underscored the Sand Dollar is more easily accessible, and a viable option for these marginalized individuals.

“We do have, for those individuals, an entry point which would allow them to establish, with little hassle, a mobile wallet containing Sand Dollars up to $500, transacting over $1,000 per month without having to go through the extent of due diligence that would even be required for opening an account,” he shared.

“So, that very basic entry-level is intended to address cases where persons may not even yet be engaged with banks and therefore they need to have an entry point to participate in an economy that is moving more towards digital payments.”

About Theo Sealy

Theo Sealy is an award-winning journalist who serves as senior broadcast reporter and weekend TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. He has achieved several career milestones, including his work as a field contributor with CNN, his coverage of four consecutive general elections, his production of several docuseries and his Bahamas Press Club Awards win for “Best Television News Story” in 2018.