On 31 March, ‘DCash’, designed and developed by the international fintech company, Bitt, in partnership with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), became the world’s first retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be publicly issued within a formal currency union.
Governor of the ECCB, Timothy N. J. Antoine, conducted DCash’s first cross-border transactions by sending $100 DCash from the ECCB’s Headquarters in Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis to DCash Wallet holders in the three other pilot countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia.
This historic transaction was the climax of over two years of extensive research, consultations, planning, software development, operational training, merchant acquisition, customer service, and marketing achieved through collaboration with the ECCB, Bitt and multiple external stakeholders.
The DCash pilot will demonstrate – the functionality and efficacy of Bitt’s full digital currency management system in operation within a multinational financial ecosystem.
Bitt’s central bank solution enables the ECCB to mint, issue, redeem and destroy the digital Eastern Caribbean dollar. Bitt’s financial institution solution allows financial institutions to manage typical banking and customer service relationships for business and consumer clients.
The DCash Merchant app allows businesses to manage both consumer and business-to-business transactions, vendor payments, e-commerce, and internal cash/DCash management.
Bitt’s free digital wallet solution empowers ECCU residents to make in-person or remote transactions to and from other DCash Wallet holders or organizations.
Speaking at the virtual launch, Bitt’s CEO, Brian Popelka, commented, “CBDCs are truly transforming the way that financial transactions are conducted around the world. This change brings significant benefits especially to emerging economies. DCash is a game-changer for the people of the Eastern Caribbean and Bitt is exceedingly proud to be the ECCB’s digital currency management systems partner on this globally-pioneering pilot. As they launch the world’s first CBDC within a currency union, Bitt extends wholehearted congratulations to the ECCB and the citizens and residents of the ECCU”.
During his official address, ECCB Governor, Timothy N. J. Antoine, stated, “In March 2019, the ECCB announced its bold decision to develop its own central bank digital currency. I said, then, ‘we will not outsource our development’. The ECCB chose to partner with Bitt because of the company’s shared values of citizen empowerment through financial inclusion and its respect and understanding of the unique needs of emerging economies. These past two years have been an intensely collaborative journey and both Bitt and the ECCB have learnt many transferable lessons along the way. I wish to thank Bitt for being our official technology partner in the development of DCash and for helping us deliver all the transformational opportunities that this central bank digital currency will bring to the people of the ECCU”.
“Medici Ventures congratulates Bitt and its trailblazing work with the ECCB to deliver secure and simple transaction methods for businesses, consumers, and financial institutions, through the DCash application,” said Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures.
“It is exciting to see this historic collaboration to eliminate middlemen, democratise capital, and rehumanise commerce – something that is ultimately paving the way to the digital future of central banking.”
Bitt and the ECCB share a mandate of financial inclusion and the DCash Wallet can provide unbanked residents with an opportunity to onboard through the identity verification compliance programmes of participating non-bank financial institutions.
The ECCB will initially pilot DCash in four of the eight independently sovereign member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU): Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis and Saint Lucia.
Bitt is optimistic about the digital future of central banking. CEO Popelka stated, “The lessons learned during the design, delivery and rollout of DCash have confirmed that Bitt has the right team to support a CBDC from development to deployment. We have developed DCash to be interoperable with present and future digital currencies in mind. These unique capabilities further cement Bitt’s position as a global leader in the digital currency space”.
During the next twelve months, Bitt and the ECCB endeavor to incorporate DCash into the full financial ecosystem of the four pilot countries.
Immediate plans include introducing additional app features and the enrollment of the four remaining ECCU member territories: Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the two UK Overseas Territories of Anguilla and Montserrat.