19th June 2019, Port-Au-Prince, HAITI - La Banque de la République d'Haiti (BRH) invited Barbados-based fintech company, Bitt, to deliver a presentation on the likely benefits of a blockchain-based Central Bank Digital Currency to key stakeholders in Haiti last month. Members of the audience included representatives from international funding organizations and decision makers of banks and telecommunications operators in Haiti.
According to BRH, they are “considering a pilot to create a digital version of the Haitian Gourde, which aims to improve the domestic payments system and promote financial inclusion in Haiti”. Bitt’s invitation to Haiti came on the heels of a recent IMF study highlighting the cost-cutting benefits and inclusiveness of financial technology, especially as it related to inbound remittances to the Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Currently, over USD3 billion is remitted to Haiti - that’s over 30% of its GDP. World Bank data indicates that the fees paid on those remittances can be as much as 19%. Every 1% reduction in those costs is over USD30m a year more in the pockets of the people who need it most.” stated Rawdon Adams, Chief Executive Officer of Bitt.
Adams continued, “Haiti can leverage Bitt’s full range of solutions - but above all our central bank digital currency solution. Today only 32% of Haitians are banked, yet 64% have mobile telephones. A central bank digital currency would connect existing fragmented, closed-loop financial service offerings in the country. Mobile wallets and licensed financial institutions would be able to interoperate, innovate and compete more effectively. All transactions - including remittances - become vastly cheaper, faster and more secure. Ultimately, Bitt’s technology helps boost financial inclusion, complements cash whilst mitigating its costs and risks and promotes socio-economic growth.”
Bitt’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Maclyne Warner, who is of Haitian descent and accompanied the small delegation, stated “the empirical data gleaned from Bitt’s mMoney in Barbados really impressed the Haitian central bankers. We were able to show live, real-world benefits of a digital currency on our mobile platform, in a Caribbean context.”
Bitt’s Chief Economist, Marla Dukharan, and Chief Business Development Officer, Simon Chantry, were also among the delegation that journeyed to Port-au-Prince for these discussions. Should a partnership between Bitt and the BRH be established, Haitians may be able to send and receive digital currency on mobile wallets in the near future.