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By Elesha George

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Money transfer options could soon include the use of crypto currency in Antigua and Barbuda since a number of entities are said to be expressing interest in the idea.

On Wednesday, Cabinet engaged three local businessmen and three money transfer agents who plan to offer services that would include Bitcoin cash or the use of crypto currency.

Cabinet spokesman and Information Minister, Melford Nicholas said that form of digital exchange can be considered as a “hybrid” to traditional forms of wire transfer agents like the banks, Money Gram or Western Union.

“It may be a complement and so it gives consumers the option if they are needing to send money to their children, they can utilise those methodologies as much as they can utilise the wire transfer services in the banks at the moment,” Nicholas said.

The concept is new to Antigua and Barbuda, and the attorney general is said to have agreed to have the group meet with lawyers in the Ministry of Legal Affairs to ensure that their plans accord with the Digital Assets Business Act 2020, which regulates the use of digital currency within the state. 

According to the information minister, “in so far as the options for settlement, it’s going to be based on the confidence level of both vendors. It’s going to be dependent on the number of persons who want to participate at the consumer level and at the vendor level”.

Nicholas said this type of business will be most attractive and advantageous to persons who are “unbanked”.

He said what needs to happen now is to find a way to move away from physical/fiat currency into the realm of digital currency, while observing local and international financial regulatory requirements.

“The areas that they are specifically going to be looking at from the FSCRC standpoint is to ensure that all of the ‘know your customer’ requirements, all of the regular prescriptions that will be required in the physical fiat world to also apply such that there is going to be no reputational damage for persons who would be engaging in illicit activity utilising this as a medium to escape law enforcement,” Nicholas explained.

The government is hoping that the success of these businesses will translate into further economic activity and employment.

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