The Sand Dollar is the world's most advanced 'official' digital currency

20 May 2021 2 min. read

Dozens of unregulated digital – or ‘crypto’ – currencies are storming financial markets, prompting central banks globally to develop their own, legally-backed digital tokens. According to a new PwC report, The Bahamas’ Sand Dollar is leading the way in this burgeoning space.

PwC used data from global central bank websites, press releases, the Atlantic Council, and Google Trends, among others, to track global Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) – the mainstream response to the crypto boom.

CBDCs can either be used by citizens and businesses (retail CBDCs) or in interbank transactions (wholesale CBDCs) – the former being touted as a levelling force in global finance for enabling widespread access to digital currencies. “And that is a big milestone in the evolution of money,” noted PwC partner and global crypto lead Henri Arslanian.

The Sand Dollar is the world's most advanced 'official' digital currency

Around 60 CBDCs are in the works worldwide, and The Bahamas’ retail currency – ‘Sand Dollar’ – is making world-beating strides. PwC ranked the top 10 retail CBDC initiatives around the world based on "project maturity," and the Sand Dollar took the top spot.

Sand Dollar

Issued by the Central Bank of The Bahamas in October 2020, the Sand Dollar is a digital iteration of the Bahamian Dollar – and one of just two fully operational retail CBDCs worldwide. The Sand Dollar holds identical legal status as the standard currency, is issued by authorized financial institutions, and can be used for a variety of transactions.

“All residents can access the digital wallet through the mobile application or a physical payment card. The records collected during daily operations, such as income and spending information, can support applications for micro-loans,” explained Arslanian.

The Central Bank has remained ahead of the global curve since piloting the Sand Dollar in late 2019. The digital currency has a clear set of objectives: to build speed, efficiency, and security in payments; to cut costs of financial services and build inclusion across age and status; and to tighten up control on money laundering, counterfeiting, and other cash-enabled fraud.

According to the official currency webpage, “it also provides an excellent record of income and spending, which can be used as supporting data for micro-loan applications.”

Cambodia’s Project Bakong – an interbank transaction system across 11 commercial banks – ranked second on PwC’s retail CBDC list as the only other project to have reached an official launch. Other countries/regions in the top 10 included – in order – Mainland China, Ukraine, Uruguay, Ecuador, Eastern Caribbean, Sweden, South Korea and Turkey.