BASSETERRE, St Kitts – The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintechcompany, Bitt Inc. (Bitt) have signed a contract to conduct a first-of-its-kind blockchain-issued Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot within the Eastern Caribbean.
The Bank, which serves as a central bank for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat, disclosed last week that the contract was signed late last month at its headquarters in St Kitts and Nevis.
This ECCB’s CBDC pilot will involve a securely minted and issued digital version of the EC dollar (DXCD). The digital EC dollar will be distributed and used by Licensed Financial Institutions and Non-Bank Financial Institutions in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The DXCD will be used for financial transactions between consumers and merchants, including peer-to-peer transactions, all using smart devices. For example, an individual in St Kitts and Nevis will be able to send DXCD securely from his/her smartphone to a friend in Grenada in seconds – and at no cost to either party.
ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine emphasized that the Bank was going a step further than previous CBDC research and experiments.
“This is not an academic exercise. Not only will the digital EC dollar be the world’s first digital legal tender currency to be issued by a central bank on blockchain, but this pilot is also a live CBDC deployment with a view to an eventual phased public rollout,” he explained. “The pilot is part of the ECCB’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021 which aims to help reduce cash usage within the ECCU by 50 per cent, promote greater financial sector stability, and expedite the growth and development of our member countries. It would be a game-changer for the way we do business”.
CEO of Bitt Inc., Rawdon Adams thanked the ECCB for choosing his company which has as its mission, the practical application of cutting edge technology to solve persistent financial problems.
“It is about a successful currency union building on its impressive record of financial stability, development and integration to deliver a quantum improvement to the lives of all its 630,000 citizens. Enhancing economic growth and the quality of life of ordinary people is the aim,” he said.
The ECCB is poised to embark on the DXCD pilot from this month. The pilot will be executed in two phases: development and testing, for about twelve months, followed by rollout and implementation in pilot countries for about six months.
The Bank said that as part of pilot implementation, it will ramp up its sensitization and education initiatives to facilitate active public engagement throughout all member countries.