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Bitcoin to be explored as legal tender in SKN by March 2023; ECCB warns against current use of Cryptocurrencies as payment or investment instruments


by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The presence of Bitcoin is increasing in the Caribbean region, specifically in St. Kitts and Nevis, where there is growing evidence that natives are adapting to popular digital financial offerings.

During the November 16 edition of ECCB Connects, Blockchain Researcher and Data Scientist Dr Daniel Joseph mentioned that using Cryptocurrencies, especially as a means of investment, is risky.

The Eastern Caribbean Security Exchange is the avenue through which people of the region should turn to when investing in securities, but in the case of Cryptocurrencies, there is no proper regulatory framework or regulatory body that manages them, Joseph warned.

He stated, “The key characteristic of Cryptocurrency is that it’s built on a decentralised system, meaning that there is no one person in charge. Whether that’s good or bad, it depends on what’s important to you. So like you’d say, go to the ECCB or a broker, for cryptocurrencies because no one is in charge, there is no one that needs to give you permission to do it. As long as you have an internet connection, [and] a computer, you are free to purchase Cryptocurrencies.”

Dr Joseph informed the listening audience that an individual interested in Cryptocurrencies would need a wallet. A wallet is a piece of software that a person can download that would keep track of their money, gives them access to the blockchain, and can be used to make transactions for the individual. According to Joseph, the disadvantage in this regard is that the value of Cryptocurrencies tends to be quite volatile.

He stated, “You’d have to buy the coins, of course. You’d need a wallet to buy the coin, and then hopefully, the value goes up. Importantly, the value of the Cryptocurrencies tends to be quite volatile; it’s not [gone] up by 2 percent, go down by 1 percent. Sometimes it goes up by 50 [percent], sometimes it drops by 90. It’s quite volatile. So, it’s a very risky investment. If you’re looking for [a] long-term secure investment, Cryptocurrency is probably not the best solution for that. If you’re willing to take a risk and you have some money to spare, then you could take a chance, but it’s not the best or safest investment.”

Meanwhile, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, during the recently held Bitcoin Cash Conference 2022 held in St. Kitts on November 12 and 13, disclosed that the local government will explore Bitcoin Cash mining and make it legal tender in the Federation by March 2023.

“I can confirm that we are prepared to explore that possibility with the guidance of experts and professionals; and after consultation with our regional banking system, the financial and economic protection of our country’s industrious people is of utmost importance. Therefore I welcome the opportunity to dialogue further with a view to exploring future opportunities to engage in Bitcoin Cash mining and making Bitcoin Cash legal tender in St. Kitts and Nevis by March 2023 once the safeguards to our country and our people are guaranteed.”

In addition, PM Drew said just like any other national financial decisions, before any decision is made regarding Bitcoin as legal tender, due diligence and vetting processes will take precedence. Equally, he said, “St. Kitts & Nevis acknowledges that there are numerous benefits to leveraging Bitcoin Cash and other Cryptocurrencies to promote economic growth.”

The Prime Minister also expressed that awareness and confidence in Cryptocurrencies among local consumers is on the rise, sharing that many businesses here in St. Kitts & Nevis have already begun accepting payments in the Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash.

However, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issued a notice via social media stating that it does not regulate Bitcoin cash, advising individuals to be mindful of risks when utilising any Cryptocurrency.

The notice reads – “The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is aware of the recent increase in the activities of Bitcoin Cash in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and advises the public that the ECCB does not regulate Bitcoin Cash. The public is hereby advised to be mindful of the risks associated with utilising Bitcoin Cash or any cryptocurrency as a payment or investment instrument. The ECCB reminds the public that the Eastern Caribbean (EC) Dollar, together with its digital form, DCash, remains the sole currency which bears the status of legal tender in the ECCU.”


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