BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday September 19, 2018 – Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley has announced an mMoney pilot project that will see Government providing a network for digital payments for Barbadians – the first of its kind for the Caribbean.
The pilot project, involving Bitt, the Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Services Commission (FSC), was announced at Bitt’s second annual ‘Central Bank Meets Blockchain’ conference.
She told the large audience that with the introduction of the pilot, Government would be taking another step into the future.
“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…that facilitates…digital payments for our people in Barbados,” Mottley said.
The Prime Minister disclosed that she would take leadership of the project.
Mottley also expressed concern about the seeming conflict between Bitt and some in the commercial banking sector.
During the conference, Bitt’s Chief Executive Officer Rawdon Adams, complained of the reluctance of some unnamed commercial banks to embrace Bitt’s proposal to partner with them.
He insisted that mMoney was not a competitor but a complement to the financial services industry, but some banks were “hostile”, and one even referring to the mMoney wallet as a “potential danger to the financial system.
“We are seeking to demonstrate what hundreds of merchants and now thousands of users know already, that digital currency is ready to be used as a complement to existing payment methods both in Barbados and across the region,” Adams insisted.
But Mottley said this “nonsense must stop”.
“Barbadians know that we need to move forward and that we need to bring to an end what is this unfortunate debate and tension between those who want to hold on to a status quo and those who want to move forward,” she said.
“Are there legitimate concerns that regulators and others may have? Yes. Are there concerns that the banks may have? I presume so; they have not shared it yet with me, but I presume so. But what we cannot do is to have a standoff. And now that I have had the luxury of moving from stabilisation to transformation, and soon hopefully post debt restructuring, we will sit down and resolve these issues.”
Mottley emphasized that Barbados would distinguish itself by ensuring its regulation was fit for purpose and that it was not a one-size fits all prescription that becomes a non-tariff barrier to growth.
“We will do so by identifying the genuine precepts that hinder competitiveness…Our duty is to protect and to facilitate fairness and transparency and that is where our regulation must start…We will facilitate those who want to dabble by creating the appropriate sandbox regulatory regimes for those to dabble…But we will not hobble development and constrain progress by refusing to admit that the world continues to evolve,” she underscored.