Barbados-based cryptocurrency firm Bitt has partnered with the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) to explore the creation of a central bank-backed digital currency.
Bitt utilizes blockchain technology to offer digital payment products and services, including digital asset issuance software. It provides a way to trade legal tender for digital assets and vice versa, as well as to trade one type of digital asset for another type of digital asset. The company also offers a mobile wallet that empowers users to send and receive money globally from their mobile devices or PCs; and send payments for goods or services locally over the Internet or directly to friends and family.
CBCS is the central bank for the Netherlands Antillean guilder and administers the monetary policy of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. In addition to issuing paper money and coins, CBCS supervises banking and credit institutions. The bank also manages foreign currency reserves of the Netherlands Antilles and offers treasury services. It was formerly known as Bank van de Nederlandse Antillen.
The parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) earlier this month to jointly examine the possibility of issuing a digital Curaçao and Sint Maarten guilder to replace the current Netherlands Antillean guilder. The goal of the project is to maintain the external stability of the guilder, and to promote the efficient functioning of the financial system in the two nations.
“The central bank is determined to address its challenges proactively by exploring the latest technology available, for example, to reduce the level of cash usage within the monetary union, and to facilitate more secure, more anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) compliant, and more efficient financial transactions within and between Curaçao and Sint Maarten,” said Leila Matroos-Lasten, acting President of the CBCS.
Matroos-Lasten added that the CBCS partnered with Bitt due to its regional experience in digital payments and its macroeconomic views.
“The CBCS herewith recognizes the transformative potential of innovation and technology and is committed to exploring solutions regarding efficiency of cross-jurisdictional transactions and digital payments whilst ensuring compliance and security assurances obtained by these state of the art (fintech) solutions,” Matroos-Lasten said. “This would be beneficial to everyone.”
Rawdon Adams, CEO of Bitt, said that the MOU clears the way for collaboration and information sharing regarding a feasibility study, designed to determine the viability and functionality of using a central bank-issued digital guilder within the financial ecosystems of each member, and across both members of the monetary union.
“A central bank issued digital currency is of particular relevance in a monetary union where member states are separated by long distances – or the ocean – as with the ECCU, and the situation of Curacao and Sint Maarten,” Adams said. “This makes the Central Bank’s task of printing and distributing physical cash securely across member states that much more challenging and costly.”
According to Adams, a central bank issued digital currency, which can be used on mobile wallets, facilitates secure and frictionless financial transactions and payments, using a mobile phone/tablet, within each jurisdiction and across jurisdictions in the monetary union.
“This solution is particularly powerful in the case of cross-border transactions, which can take days even within a monetary union, and the cost of which is only increasing,” Adams said.
The partnership with the CBCS came after Bitt signed a similar MOU with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the monetary authority for a group of eight island economies in the Caribbean, namely Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The partnership aims to improve the risk profile of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and mitigate against the trend of de-risking by the region’s correspondent banking partners.
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