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Digital EC dollar goes live

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has officially launched the digital version of the EC dollar – or ‘DCash’. The currency was rolled out as a pilot in four countries yesterday: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.

DCash is being touted as an innovative, real-time payment option within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCB) that offers a safer, faster and cheaper method of making payments, and sending and receiving funds to and from other DCash users and merchants. Consumers can access DCash via the official app, the DCash wallet, and conduct financial transactions using their smart devices.

Speaking during the virtual launch yesterday, ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine explained that in the context of the coronavirus pandemic where physical and social distancing is a requirement, DCash offers a contactless method of payment that will serve member states well in the new normal.

He said the ECCB is firmly committed to the safety, soundness and integrity of the region’s financial system and, in this regard, the bank has been careful to embed anti-money laundering and counter financing protocols in the DCash design and industry standards and best practices as it relates to cyber security.

“Due care and attention have also been given to data privacy; payments and transfers are near instantaneous and there is no charge for transacting DCash – the central bank has made that upfront investment.

“For both financial institutions and businesses, reduced use of physical cash translates into a reduction in the storage, security and transportation costs associated with the movement, handling and securing of physical cash,” Antoine said.

He also explained that by using the reporting function in the DCash app, users will be able to track their transactions and monitor their spending. The pilot phase will run for 12 months and will include an e-commerce portal. The pilot will also eventually be rolled out in other ECCU member states.

“Leveraging our experience with the first four pilot countries we expect the onboarding process will be faster,” he added. “It is our strong desire to see all member countries in this pilot as soon as practicable but no later than September 2021.”

DCash can be obtained from participating commercial banks, credit unions or other authorised institutions. The two participating merchants in Antigua are the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) and the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB).

DCash quick facts

O Use it for paying for goods and services

O  Send it to family and friends who also have the DCash app

O  Merchants can offer this contactless payment option to their customers

O  DCash is a digital analogue of the national currency, not a type of crypto-currency

O  DCash payments are made in real-time; all you need is internet access

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