REGIONAL LEADER: PM says Government aiming to make The Bahamas leading digital assets hub

REGIONAL LEADER:  PM says Government aiming to make The Bahamas leading digital assets hub

Gov’t to establish a Digital Advisory Panel this year

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is aiming to “substantially” grow the digital assets sector in The Bahamas within the next three years, according to a White Paper tabled yesterday.

While addressing Parliament on the issue, Prime Minister Philip Davis said it is his government’s vision to transform this nation into the leading digital assets hub in the Caribbean.

Titled “The Future of Digital Assets in The Bahamas”, Davis said the document is a comprehensive policy update and the product of a consultative process that engaged the Central Bank, the Securities Commission, The Bahamas Financial Services Board, as well as industry, legal and financial experts.

“We have a vision to transform The Bahamas into the leading digital assets hub in the Caribbean and a global leader in the progressive regulation of businesses in this profoundly innovative space,” said Davis. 

“While we recognize the extraordinary opportunities afforded by digital assets, we also recognize the risks, and thus we emphasize the importance of effective regulation. We will attract the best companies and keep out bad actors. Digital assets companies associated with our jurisdiction must operate fairly and in the interests of customers.”

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas (SCB) is the primary regulator for digital assets businesses in The Bahamas. The SCB is currently processing several applications for registration under the DARE Act with other interested companies either applying for registration or evaluating The Bahamas and its digital asset regime. 

According to the White Paper, government aims to substantially grow the digital assets sector by 2025, “while ensuring that only well-run, trustworthy, and thriving digital asset businesses, which are able to maintain high standards and sustain the good reputation of The Bahamas, are allowed to operate from the country.”

According to the White Paper, the growth of the digital assets sector is seen as a critically important part of rebuilding an economy that has been badly damaged by Hurricane Dorian and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government’s approach to digital assets builds on examples of successes in countries such as Gibraltar, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and France.

“We have also considered current and proposed regimes in places such as the USA, the UK, the European Union, Dubai, Singapore, Japan, and Australia. We have sought to formulate a balanced policy that safely encourages innovation and fosters opportunity while adhering to best practices and rigorous standards along with meeting our international obligations,” read the government’s White Paper.

According to the document, the government will this year establish a Digital Advisory Panel (DAP), which will include leading digital asset experts, to keep digital assets and related digital developments, emerging trends, and associated risks constantly under review. That panel will be charged with keeping the Government, the Digital Asset Policy Committee (DPC) – which will be chaired by the Prime Minister- and the appropriate regulators updated. It will also be responsible for recommending appropriate changes to digital policies and initiatives, to the DARE Act, and other legislation remain relevant and attractive for digital asset businesses. 

Government also plans to expand the range of sector specific academic, professional and vocational education opportunities available to enable Bahamians to secure positions in the industry.

“We will encourage and support collaboration between the applicable regulators, including the SCB, and private sector with the University of Bahamas (UB) to develop a series of crypto asset courses as well as certificate and degree offerings,” the White Paper stated.

According to the White Paper, government also plans to explore the feasibility of establishing a system of Carbon Credits and the establishment of a Caribbean Carbon Market. “This could potentially employ ‘distributed bed ledger’ or  ‘blockchain technology’ and operate  within The Bahamas’ digital asset regime,” it was noted in the White Paper.