A new digital currency pilot project may just be the thing to stop the potential standoff between Bitt -a financial technology (fintech) company in Barbados and some of the commercial banks, while allowing Barbados to move further onto the world’s digital money stage.
For years tension has run deeply between the commercial banks and newer fintech company, Bitt, where banks have faced the ongoing dilemma of whether to collaborate with this company, or to develop their own in house, money transfer systems.
As pointed out by Bitt CEO Senator Rawdon Adams, the company has had to deal with commercial banks in Barbados being ‘obstructive and anticompetitive’ while conversely they were developing more partnerships in the rest of the Eastern Caribbean than in Barbados -the country that ‘arguably needs fintech the most’.
At this year’s Bitt annual blockchain conference, held at the Hilton Resort, Adams, spoke about the reluctance of some of the local commercial banks to embrace Bitt’s proposal to partner with them in introducing blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate secure peer-to-peer transactions in moving money between clients.
In a call for Barbados to not be “stuck” in time, Barbados’ first female Prime Minster, Mia Amor Mottley, has stepped into the fray and announced her plans to launch a mMoney pilot programme. This pilot will be between Bitt, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Service Commission (FSC) that facilitates electronic and digital payments for those on the island.
Mottley spoke at the annual conference which was held under the theme Central Bank Meets Blockchain: From the Ground Up, saying there was a need for Barbados and Barbadians to bring an end to ‘this unfortunate debate and tension between those who want to hold onto a status quo and those who want to move forward’.
“Our people want digital money and …want the ease and security of electronic payments, and as a result, what must happen is face to face discussions with urgency…such that we can launch the Barbados mMoney Pilot,” she told those who had gathered for the conference.
Mottley also soothed the concerns of the commercial bankers about the new programme, after one of the bankers referred to the mMoney wallet as a ‘potential danger to the financial system’ claiming that she would be leading the program herself and that the legitimate concerns of this new payment method from all sides would be addressed as they were not going to launch this pilot project recklessly.
Mottley explained that Barbados would not be held to their old ways of banking due to the fear of the unknown, rather they would be looking to improve development because Barbados would not be left behind as the wider world continued to evolve.
News on when the planned mobile wallet pilot project would be officially launched has yet to be presented, however Mottley assured that Barbados would remain in agreement with anti-money laundering laws and customer fairness guidelines.