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Bahamas seeks to list its central bank digital currency on major crypto exchanges

The Bahamian government is looking to get its central bank digital currency listed on a crypto exchange as part of a larger effort to expand its presence in the cryptocurrency industry.

“We’ve had preliminary conversations with some exchanges about listing the Sand Dollar and those early conversations have gone very well,” Ryan Pinder, attorney general and administrator of legal affairs for the Bahamas, told Yahoo Finance at the FTX Salt Conference, noting that the country’s government wants to “give our citizens more exposure to the digital asset space.”

The island nation has made several moves in the crypto space recently in a bid to attract more business and revenue, including hosting this week's major cryptocurrency conference.

“The Bahamas is open for business and it's serious about becoming a major player in the digital asset space,” the country’s Prime Minister Phillip Davis said during a Wednesday press conference after welcoming some 2,000 crypto-natives and Wall Street firms looking to invest in the emerging market.

The Bahamian government is looking to get its central bank digital currency listed on a crypto exchange
The Bahamian government is looking to get its central bank digital currency listed on a crypto exchange. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Having launched the Sand Dollar in 2020, the Bahamas is said to be one of the leading nations in the race to implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC). However, Bahamian officials haven’t shared data for how widely the CBDC is adopted.

For a country made up of 700 different islands, cash remains king, according to a survey published last year by the Central Bank of the Bahamas, which found most respondents said they were “very comfortable” with cash (88%) whereas only 62% reported the same level of comfort with online banking.

But as other sovereign states have found, the Bahamas doesn't necessarily need nationwide crypto adoption to reap rewards that crypto businesses are bringing to their shores.

Seeking a more regulatory friendly base of operations, cryptocurrency exchange FTX moved from Hong Kong to Nassau in September. The move has brought the country more revenue in the form of taxes and real estate transactions, including one project estimated to cost $60 million that will house up to 1,000 employees. Speaking to The Nassau Guardian, FTX Digital Markets CEO Ryan Salame said the company will prioritize hiring Bahamian residents and already employs 35.

A Nassau resident and real estate developer familiar with the matter told Yahoo Finance another cryptocurrency exchange is also looking to establish a presence on the island and has already purchased several apartment units.

Bahamas, Eleuthera Island, district of Governor's Harbour (Central Eleuthera).
Bahamas, Eleuthera Island, district of Governor's Harbour. (Photo: Getty Creative)

The country’s crypto-friendly policy, which it laid out in a framework published last week, is “a continuation of the Bahamas innovation in the financial sector,” Tanya McCartney, chief executive and director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board told Yahoo Finance.

The Bahamas has long served as a safe haven for international banking thanks to its tax laws, which include no taxation on personal income, capital gains, inheritance or gifts for citizens and non-natives residing in the nation.

A report from PWC shows tourism is the primary driver of the Bahamas’ total gross domestic product (GDP) while its second largest sector, finance, makes up 15-20% of its GDP. Crypto friendliness also appears to have an overlapping impact on finance and tourism.

Based on a poll cited by El Salvador’s Minister of Tourism from February, activity in the Latin American country’s tourism sector increased by 30% in the last two months of 2021 due to its decision to make Bitcoin legal tender.

From 2019 to 2020, the Bahamas’ GDP slipped by more than 25% from $13.1 billion to $9.9 billion according to the World Bank. Bahamian government officials cite damage from Hurricane Dorian in 2019 coupled with the economic slowdown, especially in tourism, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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David Hollerith covers cryptocurrency for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @dshollers.

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