Government of Montserrat looks to digital currency to boost financial inclusion

Source: Government of Montserrat

The Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance of Montserrat, Donaldson Romeo, has signed on behalf of the Government of Montserrat, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Barbados based financial technology company Bitt Inc., to create a Digital Payments Ecosystem in Montserrat.

Premier Romeo stated that Bitt Inc. will work with the Government of Montserrat and other domestic stakeholders, such as the private sector, commercial banks, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), to create a digital payments ecosystem in Montserrat.

He explained that "the people of Montserrat will benefit from increased financial inclusion, and a significant reduction in their need for cash to make payments for goods and services, or as a means of saving. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer, will now be able to conduct these domestic transactions securely, efficiently, digitally."

This initiative is both historic and essential to the future socio-economic wellbeing of the people of Montserrat.

“The decision to move closer to a cashless society is in keeping with our overall development strategy, and also that of the ECCB,” explained Premier Romeo. “Montserrat, and indeed the wider Caribbean, has a renewed focus on building resilience and securing sustainability. Indeed, creating a modern, digital financial ecosystem, is a key element of this drive to build back better. Though we are small, we are by no means insignificant. The people of Montserrat are proud to be raising the bar, taking the lead, and setting the example, with this groundbreaking initiative,” he added.

The MOU between the Government of Montserrat and Bitt Inc. will provide a framework for Bitt Inc. to collaborate with Montserrat to develop a pilot programme, which includes a feasibility study designed to test the viability and functionality of Digital Eastern Caribbean Dollars (DXCD) in the financial ecosystem of Montserrat. The feasibility study in the pilot programme will also facilitate proof of concept experimentation and will use a phased approach within controlled environments to deploy, test and assess the effectiveness of suggested implementations.

Premier Romeo, while highlighting the importance of creating a digital payments ecosystem in Montserrat, added that, "The use of cash, as we all know, has risks and costs associated with it. It costs money to print money, and saving in cash ‘under the mattress’ and walking around with cash can be risky." He further stated that “the need for cash or for everyday transactions like purchases, or sending money locally to your loved ones, would be eliminated, as you would be able to use Bitt’s mMoney mobile wallet for free peer-to-peer transfers of money using your smartphone, tablet or computer."

The digital payments ecosystem, once implemented, will include a number of free services. Consumers who use Bitt’s mMoney mobile wallet to send money to loved ones locally or within the ECCU, and to make payments for goods and services, would be able to do so for free. Consumers would be able to download Bitt’s mMoney mobile wallet for free from the Google Playstore or Apple App Store, add funds to their mMoney wallet at any of the Digital Wallet Merchants for free, and make local payments for free.

The MOU between the Government of Montserrat and Bitt Inc. will be for an initial period of three years.

"Bitt congratulates the Government of Montserrat on this progressive move, and is honored to assist the island in meeting its objective of boosting financial inclusion, while reducing reliance on cash, as together we build resilience and sustainable socio-economic progress," said Rawdon Adams, CEO of Bitt Inc.

Bitt Inc. is a financial technology company that utilises distributed ledger technology to offer secure, efficient, and cost effective digital payment products and services, including digital asset issuance software. Bitt Inc.’s suite of software can efficiently and securely issue an immutable DXCD, which, with the blessing of the ECCB, equates to the XCD - the existing legal tender of the ECCU.

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