by Cindy Huynh
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and Barbados-based FinTech company Bitt Inc. will conduct a pilot using blockchain technology with the member countries of the ECCB.
According to the press release, the ECCB will work closely with the FinTech company to:
“develop, deploy and test technology which focuses on data management, compliance, and transaction monitoring system for Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering, and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.”
The implementation of blockchain technology can help the ECCB develop a more secure and resilient digital payments and settlements platform while improving the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s risk profile and reputation.
Furthermore, the pilot will also focus on the “issuance of a digital EC currency which will operate alongside physical EC currency.”
Central Banks and Blockchain Technology
The ECCB’s optimism towards blockchain technology is similar to other international Central Banks. While the ECCB will conduct a pilot using blockchain technology, Lithuania’s Central bank is launching a sandbox blockchain platform while Papua New Guinea’s Central bank is looking to use blockchain to improve financial inclusion. Sweden, on the other hand, is exploring the idea of digital money, while Japanese and South African Central banks are warming up to the use of blockchain.
Central Banks recognizes the potential impact of blockchain technology in the FinTech industry. Timothy N.J Antoine, the governor of the ECCB, acknowledges that, while the ECCB admit the importance of safety, security, and stability of the financial ecosystem, they also support innovation and “blockchain technology merits our attention and consideration at this time.”
ECCB’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2021
“This FinTech pilot is part of the Bank’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021,” said Antoine:
“The aim of the pilot is to ascertain the suitability of blockchain technology to help boost economic growth and competitiveness in the region consistent with the ECCB’s monetary and financial stability objective.”
Bitt Inc. will work on the pilot in 2018 as the ECCB supervises the process in controlled environments. The member nations of the ECCB that will be involved include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are proud to collaborate with the ECCB in the development of this pilot study to explore technological solutions to some of the all too real problems affecting the region, its institutions and most importantly its people,” said Rawdon Adams, CEO of Bitt Inc. The press release, however, did not mention how long the pilot will go for or when the results would be available.
Bitt Inc. is also Providing Digital Payments Services to Montserrat
On February 21st, Bitt Inc. also agreed to work with the Caribbean island Montserrat to launch a digital payments platform. While this may involve blockchain technology, it is a separate and distinct pilot from the ECCB’s initiative.
Bitt Inc. sees an excellent opportunity to launch a digital payments platform for the people of Montserrat. These people experience high frictional fees from banks and complicated money transfer processes that are costly to resolve. The Barbados-based company wants to enable “everyone with a smartphone, tablet, or computer to easily make digital domestic transactions.”
“We’re honored to assist Montserrat in meeting its objective of boosting financial inclusion while reducing reliance on cash while building resilient and sustainable socio-economic progress together,” said Adams.