BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Sunday 4th April 2021)- The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has launched it digital cash version of the EC Dollar.

At a virtual ceremony and media session held on Wednesday 31st March 2021 details were shared about the digital currency, called DCash.

It is the first of its kind and is expected to raise the profile of doing business and cash transfers in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.

The launch is a pilot of the online application in four of the eight ECCU territories – Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia – but the Central Bank Governor, Timothy Antoine anticipates a full roll out in all member states by September, 2021. 

The central bank has partnered with Bitt, a Barbados-based financial technology company, to pioneer the development of a cashless platform to virtually shop and share money across the islands. The digital currency is expected to form an integral part in building out a digital economy sub-region. 

Governor Antoine, in his presentation at the media launch, spoke to the pioneering effort the bank undertook to develop DCash.

He outlined that when the project started, the idea of a digital currency was considered to be extreme. However, “the extreme is fast becoming mainstream” as there are 9 other central banks now pursuing the concept of digital currencies. 

The governor presented DCash as being “safer, faster, and cheaper” method of doing business that will redound to the benefit of businesses and consumers alike. 

He described DCash as being safe because unlike physical cash, it cannot be stolen; it is a contact-less method of payment during the COVID-19 new normal; and it is embedded with anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism protocols in its design. The use of DCash also allows for data privacy. 

DCash transactions are settled in as few as three seconds. The near instantaneous transaction time was demonstrated during the media event to show funds moving among intended recipients in the different islands where the platform is being piloted and back to the initial sender. 

There are no hidden user charges to operate on the DCash platform, plus this reduces the cost associated with transporting physical at the close of the business day. DCash intends to make it more affordable to do business. 

DCash wallets are of two types. These are value-based and register-based wallets. A value-based wallet allows DCash users to operate without using a bank account. The register-based wallet allows users to operate in connection with their banks accounts and allows for transfers of funds from account to wallet and reverse. 

The first group of participating financial institutions across the ECCU are Communal Co-operative Credit Union Ltd. (Grenada), G U T Co-operative Credit Union Ltd. (Grenada), Republic Bank (Grenada) Ltd., 1st National Bank St. Lucia Ltd., Bank of Saint Lucia Ltd, JANNOU Credit Union (St. Lucia), Caribbean Union Bank (Antigua and Barbuda), Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank Ltd. (Antigua and Barbuda), and St. Kitts Co-operative Credit Union Ltd. 

Merchants who are already accepting DCash payments include Stuart A. Lockhart Legal Services (Antigua and Barbuda), One Coor Mining (Antigua and Barbuda), Solange and Sunny (Antigua and Barbuda), Packed Grocery Delivery (Antigua and Barbuda), 268 Buggies (Antigua and Barbuda), Stanhope Shepherd (Antigua and Barbuda), Huggins Foodland (Grenada), Abstract Décor (Grenada), File and Style ‘em Nails (Grenada), Ramdhanny’s True Value (Grenada), Gr8 Taste (Grenada), KFC Grenada, Grenada Laundry Services Ltd, Eastern Caribbean Rum (Grenada), True Blue Bay Resort (Grenada), Creative House (Grenada), Grenadian Optical Laboratories Ltd, KeyLargo Italian (St. Lucia), True Value Building and Hardware Supplies Ltd. (St. Lucia), J’s Wrap Citi (St. Lucia), KJ’s Delightful Treats (St. Lucia), Tastee Tinges (St. Lucia), Operative Car Rental (St. Lucia), Fred’s Lumber and Supplies Ltd. (St. Lucia), Wizo Ltd. (St. Lucia), EcoCarib (St. Lucia), Computer and Business Services (St. Lucia), Nature’s Best (St. Lucia), Bass Bakery and Bargain Superette (St. Kitts and Nevis), Schools Apex Cooperative (St. Kitts and Nevis), Innovative Education and Training (St. Kitts and Nevis),  Luxury Interiors (St. Kitts and Nevis), Dahlia Architectural and Construction (St. Kitts and Nevis), eCaribbean (St. Kitts and Nevis), and F&H Frisco (St. Kitts and Nevis).