Bahamas ‘Sand Dollar’ is World’s First Active CBDC

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  • The Central Bank of the Bahamas has announced that the world’s first active CBDC, the Sand Dollar, has gone live
  • The CBDC, which is pegged to the Bahamian dollar, has been tested on Exuma and Abaco in recent months
  • The Bahamas has beaten the likes of China to the punch and delivered a CBDC first

The Central Bank of the Bahamas has announced that it has launched the world’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the Sand Dollar. The Sand Dollar digital currency, plans for which were first revealed in 2018, has been tested on two islands in the region in the past 10 months, with those tests being successful enough to now allow a full rollout. In launching the Sand Dollar, The Bahamas has claimed the crown of operating the world’s first fully functioning CBDC, ahead of superpowers like China.

Sand Dollar

Bahamas Grand Plans Come to Fruition

The concept of the Sand Dollar dates back to June 2018 when the bank announced their plans to create a digital currency that aimed to benefit the “many family islands” in the region. This announcement was made during the dying embers of the cryptocurrency bull run at a time when everything from coffee to cars was going on the blockchain, and so the plans could have been easily dismissed as fanciful.

Nothing could have been further from the truth however, with 18 months of development on the Sand Dollar leading to a real-world trial in December 2019 on the island of Exuma. This trial was extended to another island, Abaco, in March this year, by which time a Bahamas-wide rollout had already been penciled in for H2 of 2020.

Sand Dollar to Bring “Financial Inclusion”

This rollout began yesterday, with residents of all 700 of the islands in the archipelago now able to pay for goods and services at any merchant that has a “Central Bank approved e-Wallet on their mobile device”, according to the official website. With over 90% of the population currently using a mobile device, accessibility to the Sand Dollar should be easy enough for both residents and visitors.

The Central Bank hopes that the Sand Dollar, which is pegged to the Bahamian dollar, which is in turn pegged to the U.S. dollar, said last year that it hoped the CBDC would “allow for reduced service delivery costs, increased transactional efficiency, and an improved overall level of financial inclusion.”