Worldwide, Caribbean countries are adopting blockchain and cryptocurrencies quickly than anywhere else. In March, four island countries, St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua, and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis became the first digital currency union in the world with the launch of “DCash.”
DCash, unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin which are decentralized and not regulated, is backed by a central bank. Now, a small Caribbean island is set to become home to the world’s first cryptocurrency community where residents will pay for goods and services in bitcoins.
The bitcoin-enabled community will be located in the paradise island of Bequia, which is just 18 square kilometers in size and the second-largest island of the Grenadines archipelago.
The project is being championed by a private real estate developer, Storm Gonsalves, who is planning to build 39 luxury villas, shops, a clubhouse, and buildings with his company One Bequia.
According to the Independent, residents will be able to pay for the properties in cryptocurrency, which will make it the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The properties, which range from £670,000 ($922,000) to £1.6m, can be purchased using cryptocurrency equivalents where prices are locked in to avoid fluctuations in price during transactions, according to the Independent.
Gonsalves told Euro News that the acceptance of cryptocurrency for payment is increasingly becoming popular hence the decision to sell in the digital currency.
“Right now we’re pioneering an alternative form of financing. We’re also pioneering a new way of marketing,” he said to the Express. “There are over $1 trillion in the market cap of bitcoin alone, and many of these purchasers first bought it when bitcoin was only $1,000.”
He continued: “So there is a lot of wealth in the cryptomarket that cannot be ignored anymore – it’s just too large. It has really hit the mainstream so I think what we’re doing is going to become run of the mill in a few years from now.”
St. Vincent-born Gonsalves believes cryptocurrencies can resolve the financial challenges faced by Island communities increasingly cut-off from mainstream banking facilities.
“Residents of small island nations are finding it increasingly difficult to send and receive money internationally because of ‘derisking’ by large international banks,” he told Euro News. “Derisking is when these large institutions remove their intermediary banking services from smaller island-based community banks.
Gonsalves further explained that because international banks are cautious when transacting businesses in small Caribbean islands, it could be devastating for tourism-based economies if the trend continues.
“This has pushed many Caribbean island nations to adopt blockchain and other cryptocurrencies a lot faster than other more developed nations,” added Gonsalves.