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The Bahamas Plans to Become a Leading Blockchain Hub

An NGO in collaboration with some institutions announced plans to establish blockchain developers in the Bahamas. The group also aims to place the Island at the forefront of distributed ledger technology (DLT) adoption.

A Leading Blockchain Hub in the Caribbean

According to The Nassau Guardian, an NGO known as the Caribbean Blockchain Alliance (CBA) is seeking to establish a group of decentralized technology developers in The Bahamas. In a press release, Stefen Deleveaux, founder of the CBA, talked about the inherent opportunities found in decentralized technology.

The founder further explained thus:

Blockchain technology is seen as the next step in Internet and financial technology, in what many describe as Web 3.0. There is a huge opportunity to use this technology to improve public and private services in this country. In addition, competent blockchain developers are in high demand, in an industry that almost guarantees access to a high-income job or potential project.

Deleveaux also said that part of the objectives was to build several cohorts of DLT developers. The CBA founder also recognized the importance of blockchain technology in software infrastructure as the reason for the groups.

Furthermore, Deleveaux announced a collaboration involving Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CBA, Blockgeeks, and the University of the Bahamas. These four institutions would host a hackathon. Also, twenty-five Bahamian citizens would partake in a course for decentralized technology developers, from November 30 – December 1, 2018.

The press release further stated that after the course, students would get a certificate recorded on the decentralized technology.

Michael Nelson, who serves as IDB’s Chief of Operations, added that the bank seeks to empower Bahamian citizens. With the collaboration and the incentives in place for DLT developers, Ameer Rosic, the CEO of Blockgeeks, believes that the Island could be “the blockchain hub of the Caribbean.”

Island Governments Adopting Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency adoption are recording high among Island governments. Some of these countries go further to aspire to become “blockchain Islands.”

Towards the end of the second quarter, the Bahamas announced plans to issue its digital currency. According to the Island, a state-owned virtual currency would help to improve its economic development and eliminate barriers.

Malta, another DLT-friendly country, is at the forefront of decentralized technology and cryptocurrency adoption. Popularly known as the “blockchain Island,” it was the first country to have a holistic legislative framework regulating DLT technology.

Furthermore, Malta introduced the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) and the Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS). Both Acts would regulate virtual currency and decentralized technology.

However, Marshall Islands’ plan to adopt cryptocurrency isn’t receiving complete support. President Hilda Heine’s announced moves to create a virtual currency that would act as a legal tender but received a “no confidence motion” from some of the country’s senators. The IMF and the U.S. also disagreed with the president’s plan.

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Bahamas Plans To Issue Its Own Cryptocurrency

The Central Bank of the Bahamas has serious plans to issue its own cryptocurrency as a way to stimulate the region’s economic development and eliminate specific barriers that the population faces with the use of traditional FIAT money.

Kevin Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Bahamas, unveiled the information in a speech at The Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.

For Mr. Turnquest, the use of a CBDC (Central Banked Digital Currency) would help families in sectors where there are no banks established, the Jamaica Observer reports:

“The production of a modern fully digital payment service is the way forward for this era of governance. A digital Bahamian currency is especially important for the many family islands as they have seen many commercial banks downsize and pull out of their communities, leaving them without banking services. As an island nation, where transportation can be an inconvenience for many, especially the elderly, and costly, we must offer financial services digitally and securely,”

K. Peter Turnquest

Previously, the BIS called for caution by questioning the advisability of issuing CBDCs; however, this is a sovereign decision of each country, even among those that are members of this institution.

Not Just Cryptos. Also Blockchain

In addition to the issuance of national cryptocurrency, the senior Bahamian politician mentioned that the government is looking into exploiting the potential of blockchain technologies in areas other than finance.

For Mr. Turnquest, the settlement of records (or notarization) represents the most visible and immediate use of these technologies, although he emphasized that these studies are “very preliminary.”

“Even though it is at a very preliminary form, the government is looking to see other ways in which certificates such as business licenses, passports, national insurance can make use of blockchain technology to enable persons to maintain their data and share it in a secure and verifiable way.”

Kevin Peter Turnquest had previously mentioned his intention to direct his efforts towards the use of blockchain technologies to combat corruption and to make the state’s actions more efficient in providing services or responding to citizens’ requests:

“Using technology and single points of contact we’re able to eliminate a lot of the human element that facilitates corruption, and so when we talk about applying for government services, if we have a single portal for entry and all of the processing being done behind the scenes, either through electronic data interchange or through human facilitation we can eliminate that point where, we Bahamians call it, you have to tip somebody in order to get service.”

Bahamas: Where Blockchain will be “Government-Friendly”

The Bahamas is what people call a “tax haven”, a particularly sensitive issue, because of the difficulty of tracing funds. This can result in a stimulus to money laundering. However, it also has particular advantages in providing its clients with a level of privacy and ease of capital storage that other countries are unable to provide.

The conference ends this Friday. So far it has been highly successful, attracting a large number of participants from various parts of the world. This has also been a success for blockchain culture in the region.