Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are designed to be anonymous and free of ties to monetary authorities, CBDCs are digital fiat—the sand dollar is an extension of the Bahamian dollar. Traded online and over mobile phones, it aims to dramatically accelerate digital transactions in the Bahamas by breaking down barriers between disparate payment platforms. A government-backed common currency will permit rival mobile wallets, which often use proprietary tokens, to transact more easily with competitors.
The man behind the digital push is John Rolle, 54, who has served as the country’s central bank governor since 2016. Born on Andros Island, Rolle began working in various roles at the bank as early as 1990, but went abroad to pursue graduate studies in economics at American University in Washington and Carleton University in Ottawa. In addition to his central banking experience, he spent three years as a senior adviser to the International Monetary Fund’s executive director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean and three years at the Bahamian Ministry of Finance. Rolle spoke with Bloomberg Markets in early May about his country’s experience with the sand dollar. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
JIM WYSS: How did the sand dollar project begin? JOHN ROLLE: We were in a long process of modernizing our payment systems and identified the need for new payment service providers. We needed a payment platform where you could have all of these providers connect and communicate.
In an island geography it’s very hard to provide financial services through a physical channel. The cost considerations have meant that banks in some cases refused to service some of our rural “family islands.” Those communities can eventually piggyback off this [digital] infrastructure to communicate and interact with traditional financial-service providers. That’s not something that we will see on Day 1, but that infrastructure is there, and the regulatory structure is there. It will be possible for financial institutions to confidently provide services through these digital channels, and we now have the safety of a settlement mechanism, the sand dollar.
JW: Did hurricanes and other natural disasters play a role in developing the sand dollar?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The New Economics
Policymakers learned the lessons of 2008 and deployed a wider set of tools to help repair the damage from Covid. They know how to create a recovery, but can they manage the boom?
‘Look Where We Were and Where We Are Now'
IT LOOKS LIKE a woman’s world on the 29th floor of Tamkeen Tower, where a call center for Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics overlooks the beige sprawl of Riyadh. Past frosted glass doors, the few men to one side of the room are vastly outnumbered by female colleagues sitting at desks spread across the office.
You Have to Be Prepared to Act
To repair the economic damage wrought by the pandemic, Freeland says she’s using lessons from her journalism career and the collapse of the Soviet Union
WHEN IS ALL THIS going to be over?
The U.S. Can't Afford a Tax Policy That Punishes Wealth
HIS CRITICS AND supporters agree: President Joe Biden’s tax plans are radical. He wants a substantial increase in U.S. public spending and means to pay for it by raising taxes on the rich, in particular by almost doubling the top tax rate on investment income. Unsurprisingly, the idea seems to be playing well in opinion polls. It would be odd if the promise to lift up the poor and middle class at the expense of the top 3% was unpopular. The question is whether it’s smart.
The Death Cross
In South Korea, living alone and childless is becoming a way of life—with dramatic consequences for one of Asia’s most successful economies
Stay on Top of Deal Developments With These Automated Stories
DEALMAKING JUST HAD the best first quarter in more than 20 years. Global mergers-and-acquisitions volume hit $1.1 trillion in the January-through-March period, and the number of deals—14,852—was the highest recorded in any quarter since Bloomberg started compiling deal data in 1998. While M&A soared in every region, North American acquirers led the way, racking up $568 billion of transactions.
The Bahamas' Central Banker Explains Why Its ‘Sand Dollar' Led the Way
THE BAHAMAS BECAME a global leader in e-money last year when it launched one of the world’s first central bank digital currencies— the “sand dollar”—beating China’s “digital renminbi” to the market by six months.
Saving Youngstown. Again
One U.S. president after another has promised to turn this Rust Belt city around. Now Joe Biden is planning to steer millions of dollars in federal funding to revive manufacturing. So where are the jobs?
Poverty Soars in the World's Most Unequal Region
THE COVID-19 pandemic has sent a wave of poverty racing across Latin America, deepening declines that began over the past decade and consigning millions to lives of deprivation.
Ditch Your Dusty Workout Excuses
The first step to fitness? Conquering your can’ts.
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to reap the health benefits of exercise.
The 12th Dimension
Top 12 FA acquisitions in Giants history
They're On A Roll
Talent has no boundaries, and the Rollettes are making their way to the top through dance
No pain, no gain - SILVER FERN JANE'S rocky road to victory
THE NETBALLER REVEALS WHY SHE’S STRONGER FOR HER STRUGGLES
Hang On Tight!
You needed 10 cents . . . and a little courage.