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Blockchain Startup Signs MOU With Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten

Barbados-based fintech startup Bitt Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) to research the possibility of issuing a digital guilder, according to an August 12 press release.

The parties signed the MOU in order to develop a central bank digital currency to facilitate financial payments within the monetary union of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Per the announcement, the bank is looking to “reduce the level of cash usage within the monetary union” and facilitate “more secure, more Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliant” transactions between the islands. Rawdon Adams, CEO of Bitt Inc, commented on the collaboration:

“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.”

Adams further explained that printing fiat money by a central bank and distributing it between the two member states is costly and challenging. Conversely, digital currency can be used on mobile wallets and makes it easier to make transactions and payments in the monetary union in a more secure way. Leila Matroos-Lasten, acting President of the CBCS said:

“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. This would be beneficial to everyone.”

In 2017, Bitt Inc. appointed Rawdon Adams, the son of the prime minister of Barbados between 1976 and 1985, as its new CEO. The hiring was viewed as part of the firm’s strategy to add weight to its plans in the region. That year the company partnered with the central bank of Barbados for the advancement of pilot blockchain projects.

Bitt Inc. is a fintech portfolio company of Medici Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of Overstock.com, which was established to develop blockchain-powered solutions to “solve real-world problems.” Medici Ventures is the majority owner of tZERO company.

While the bank of the Dutch Caribbean regions demonstrates openness to issuing its own digital currency, the divisional director of the Dutch Central Bank, Petra Hielkem, said that due to the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the possibility for consumer risks, it cannot be considered money. She added that, while cryptocurrencies are not “real money,” the bank has no plans to ban them.

Recently, Iran announced its commitment to create its own state-issued cryptocurrency aiming to circumvent U.S. sanctions, despite the fact that earlier the central bank banned domestic banks and other financial establishments from dealing with crypto, citing money-laundering concerns.

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Bitt Inks Blockchain Deal With Another Caribbean Central Bank

Barbados-based blockchain startup Bitt is partnering with the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) to look into issuing a central bank-backed digital currency for the two nations.

Bitt, a portfolio company of Overstock’s Medici Ventures, said Monday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the central bank for the Dutch Caribbean island Curaçao and Netherlands constituent country Sint Maarten earlier this month. The goal of the deal is to jointly examine the possibility of issuing a digital Curaçao and Sint Maarten guilder to replace the current Netherlands Antillean guilder.

The project will focus in part on testing know-your-customer/anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) technology, according to statements.

CBCS acting president Leila Matroos-Lasten said the bank signed the MOU with Bitt “due to this company’s regional experience in digital payments and its macroeconomic views.”

She added:

“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 AML and KYC compliant and more efficient financial transactions within and between Curaçao and Sint Maarten.”

The MOU signifies that the bank recognizes the potential improvements that technology can bring, she added.

“The CBCS … is committed to exploring solutions regarding the 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 was quoted as saying. “This would be beneficial to everyone.”

The news comes a few months after Bitt signed a similar MOU with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, a central banking institution that covers Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

That trial may be used to develop new digital payment and settlement systems, and if successful, could ultimately help the bank issue a cryptocurrency of its own, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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ICO Project Polymath Is Trying to Buy a Stake In a Real Stock Exchange

If one announcement summarizes the ambitions of crypto project Polymath, it might be Wednesday’s acquisition of the domain “Tokens.com”

One of its several this week, it cuts to the heart of the project’s aims to dominate the issuance of tokenized securities. But the plans go beyond just the acquisition of potentially popular domain names.

In the run-up to the company’s Wednesday morning appearance at CoinDesk’s Consensus conference, Polymath also revealed it’s in the process of closing a deal to acquire a large stake in the Barbados Stock Exchange and that it’s working on a deal with the alternative trading system tZero.

With those two partnerships, it believes it will have the platform to create tokens that can actually trade and dominate the coming transition of traditional equity to crypto. Neither deal is done, but Polymath CEO Trevor Koverko projects that they should be closed by early June. (Polymath raised $58.7 million in a private placement of tokens to accredited investors, according to Business Insider.)

Koverko sees a crisis of liquidity in security tokens. As CoinDesk previously reported, many of the tokens issued so far are under a lockup period required by U.S. securities regulations, but Koverko argues that’s not the whole story.

“It’s also because everyone’s scared to release them in the wild because you can’t prevent unaccredited people from getting them,” Koverko told CoinDesk. “What we’re doing is we’re bringing a measure of restraint and typical Wall Street-like compliance.”

Polymath has built a system that makes a whitelist of accounts that have gone through the know-your-customer, anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) and investor accreditation checks that make them viable to trade with. That way, once a token has been issued on Polymath, it shouldn’t be possible for an unaccredited investor in the U.S. to acquire it.

It’s calling this ST20, which it describes as a new standard for security tokens. For now, these tokens will be issued on the ethereum blockchain (it is not actually an ethereum standard). The company has partnered with SelfKey, IdentityMind and Shyft as its KYC/AML partners.

Polymath is one of several companies that have jumped into the token issuing space, which grows more crowded by the week. The firm describes itself as a platform, one that brings in companies and guides them through the process of issuing a security token. The companies with the strongest proposals will get access to elite consultants, legal counsel and possible investment from Polymath’s new security token fund, which it also announced this week.

One of Polymath’s partners, Gabriel Abed, founder of Bitt, a Caribbean platform for mobile money, explained the value of a crypto exchange in the country. “Barbados has the most double tax treaty agreements in the world.”

That means that if a company pays tax in one country, it doesn’t have to pay tax in the other. “It’s quite cool as well when you look at the China relationship that Barbados has,” because so many Chinese companies have needed to look abroad as domestic regulations have banned new token issuances, he said.

Bitt is in the family of companies, like tZero, that have investments from Patrick Byrne and Overstock.com. Abed is working to negotiate the use of TZero’s backend to run a crypto specific exchange out of the Barbados Stock Exchange.

Once the exchange is running, it will be a ready place for new tokens to trade, with guarantees built into the ST20 platform that no one will be able to hold them that shouldn’t. Koverko anticipates equity and real estate to begin quickly moving onto the platform. He also sees opportunities for people in the developing world with capital but without local financial infrastructure to make investments.

Just as Africa skipped the landline phase and went straight to mobile, Koverko envisions a mobile-based capital market there as well.

The Barbados Stock Exchange and tZero had not confirmed the deals in process at press time.

Turtles in Barbados photo via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to Pilot Bitt Blockchain Tech

Bitt Inc., the Barbados-based blockchain startup, has landed a pilot deal with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

A portfolio company of Overstock’s Medici Ventures arm, Bitt said it had signed a memorandum of understanding  with the ECCB to test its technology for know-your-customer, anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism procedures within the central bank’s member nations.

Those member nations include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Launching next year, the pilot will be restricted to controlled environments and supervised by the bank, according to a press release. The results could be used to develop more effective digital payment and settlement systems, and may also be used to help issue a digital currency for the region.

Bitt will specifically look to track data management, compliance and transaction monitoring, according to the press release.

ECCB governor Timothy Antoine said the pilot is part of the bank’s 2017-2021 strategic plan. He continued:

“As the ECCB promotes the safety and soundness of the financial system in the ECCU, it also has a responsibility to encourage and support innovation consistent with the Bank’s mandate to facilitate the balanced growth and development of member countries. To that end, blockchain technology merits our attention and consideration at this time.”

Details about how long the pilot will last or when its results would be available were not available.

However, the press release did note that any digital currency issued would be used alongside the region’s existing fiat currency.

Bitt previously worked with a U.S. blockchain startup, Netki, to develop a payment network in Barbados, and developed a digitized version of the Barbadian dollar.

Caribbean beach image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Overstock Venture Arm Invests $3 Million in Blockchain Payments Startup

Bitt, a Barbados-based blockchain payment startup, has announced a $3 million investment from Overstock’s venture capital subsidiary, Medici Ventures.

As part of the new deal, Medici Ventures has agreed to buy additional 8.6 percent stake in Bitt, following a previous $4 million invested by the blockchain VC firm in 2016.

In a release published today, Bitt said the new fund will help further develop its payments solutions, aimed at bringing financial inclusion for residents in the Caribbean region.

“These are very large issues in developing countries and success in Barbados will effectively signal to others in the region that persistent issues related to, for example poverty and large informal sectors, can be tackled to the benefit of economic development,” said Rawdon Adams, Bitt’s CEO.

To achieve its goals, Adams said the new funding will be spent on advancing its new mMoney digital wallet and central bank digital currency solutions, as well as hiring more developers to support product growth.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, Bitt launched a blockchain-based version of the Barbadian dollar in early 2016 that aimed to serve underbanked residents.

Adams added that, in the move towards commercialization of its central bank solutions, the firms is eyeing further pilot projects in collaboration with central banks in the Caribbean.

Dollars image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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Former Barbados PM’s Son – CEO for Blockchain Payments Startup

Blockchain payments startup company Bitt in Barbados has announced the appointment of Rawdon Adams as its new chief executive officer as of late September 2017. The hiring is viewed as part of the firm’s strategy to add weight to its plans in the region.

In a statement, Bitt supporter Overstock’s Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson said that Adams is the right leader to advance the company to the next level.

“Rawdon is the perfect leader to grow and scale Bitt to the next level and bring to fruition Bitt’s initial vision in the Caribbean.”

Brief profile of Adams

Rawdon is the son of Tom Adams, the prime minister of Barbados who served between 1976 and 1985. Tom, meanwhile, was a son of Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, who served as the first and only prime minister of the former West Indies Federation.

Based on his LinkedIn profile, Rawdon was a former analyst at GE Medical Systems and the founder of the market arbitrage software startup company ArbMaker.

Blockchain in Caribbean region

Bitt was established to advance a settlement network built with Blockchain technology across the pan-Caribbean region. Under its plan, the company will establish a solution to better connect more than a dozen governments in the region, each with their own currency systems.

Earlier, the digital currency exchange startup has collaborated with the Central Bank of Barbados for the advancement of pilot Blockchain projects.

Among the Bitt investors, there are online retailer Overstock.com, which invested $4 mln in the company through Medici Ventures in April 2016; or local venture capital company Avatar Capital, which provided a seed funding of $1.5 mln in March 2017. The money will be utilized to expand Bitt’s team beyond Barbados.

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Prime Minister's Son to Head Barbados Bitcoin Startup

Bitt, the blockchain payments startup backed by Overstock’s Medici Ventures, has announced the hiring of a new chief executive officer.

The new CEO, Rawdon Adams, takes the helm of the Barbados-based startup just months after it unveiled an ambitious plan to develop a pan-Caribbean settlement network built with blockchain tech. The plan, Bitt said in May, is to create a way to better connect a region with more than a dozen governments, each with their own currency systems.

The startup has also worked with the Central Bank of Barbados on pilot blockchain initiatives.

The appointment of Adams adds heft to the startup’s regional plans. Rawdon is the son of Tom Adams, who served as the country’s prime minister between 1976 and 1985. Tom Adams, in turn, was the son of Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, the first and only prime minister of the former West Indies Federation.

According to LinkedIn, Rawdon previously worked as an analyst for GE Medical Systems and founded market arbitrage software startup ArbMaker in 2008.

Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures, said in a statement:

“Rawdon is the perfect leader to grow and scale Bitt to the next level and bring to fruition Bitt’s initial vision in the Caribbean.”

Overstock, through Medici, invested $4 million in Bitt in April of last year.

Tropical beach image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].