Digital currencies in Trinidad and Tobago

Let me start by defining commonly talked about terms in this space. Digital (or virtual) currency is currency available only in digital form and not physical form. Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency where cryptography is used to create, secure and verify the currency independently of a central bank. Blockchain is a decentralised and distributed digital ledger. Bitcoin is one of the available cryptocurrency. Fintech or financial technology is the use of tech to improve and automate financial services

In January 2019, the Central Bank of TT issued a joint public advisory on virtual currency. It states that digital currency is not legal tender in Trinidad and Tobago and providers are not regulated or supervised here. In early 2018 the central bank stated their position on fintech and virtual currency and in that stated that, the bank does not consider the establishment of a Central Bank digital currency a priority at this time but will continue to study developments in this area. Also available on the Central Bank website is their November 2018 Draft E-money Policy. E-money here is fiat currency in electronic form for ease of use.

In the region however, we have some countries that have gone ahead of us. We have BITT based in Barbados that started with a digital currency in 2016. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has recently launched a digital currency pilot for one year. We have the Central Bank of Bahamas with their Sand Dollar digital currency project this year. The Jamaica Stock Exchange is supporting the trading of digital currencies.

For us to say that we should be moving forward with digital currency in Trinidad and Tobago, we would have to understand the advantages and disadvantages of digital currency. I think that the tech is advanced enough where we can take a chance and present it as an option but letting persons know of the risks involved. I want to applaud the work being done by the Fintech Association of Trinidad and Tobago and their promotion of a cashless future.


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