The British Virgin Islands takes steps towards a digital currency

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Today, the British Virgin Islands will be conducting its Digital Economy symposium. This year, one of the highlights of the event will be the unveiling of plans for a British Virgin Islands’ digital currency, BVI~LIFE, which will be presented by its partner LIFELabs.io.

The main feature of BVI~LIFE is that it will allow the British Virgin Islands to transition from using the US Dollar for monetary transactions and have an independent digital currency. The use of the currency is expected to decrease the time spent on transactions, the costs of transactions and also provide tourists with easy access to a local currency. BVI~LIFE will be pegged to the US dollar with an exchange rate of 1:1.

We noted that the term “central bank digital currency” or CBDC was not used in the announcement. Although LIFElabs did refer to it as a “central digital currency” powered by LIFEtoken, the firm’s cryptocurrency. We asked LIFElabs to confirm that this is not a Central Bank Digital Currency, but essentially a government approved private currency.

The response via email was this is correct. “The currency is developed by a third party, but will be deployed and managed by the Government of the British Virgin Islands, in junction with LIFElabs global.”

In terms of balances supporting the currency the LIFElabs spokesperson stated: “The currency will be backed by traditional currency, which will be on deposit and managed by various government agencies.”

The relationship between the BVI and LIFElabs was previously announced on the BVI government website in April. We have requested confirmation of today’s announcement from the BVI press office. However, in a speech on the government website, the Premier briefly refers to a digital currency using blockchain.

“We welcome this innovation with open arms,” said BVI Premier Andrew Fahie in the LIFElabs statement. “Our partner, LIFElabs, has demonstrated with their proven track record that their ideology is not just mere words, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them on the rollout of BVI~LIFE, our digital currency.”

LIFElabs.io, which was founded in 2017, focuses on aiding charities and various other humanitarian efforts through the use of digital currency and its blockchain ecosystem.

Another key feature of BVI~LIFE will be the “Rapid Cash Response” fund. The British Virgin Islands have experienced various natural disasters in the past, such as Hurricane Irma. BVI~LIFE through the “Rapid Cash Response” fund will help citizens access cash quickly in times of need.

However, natural disasters often impact cellular access, so we asked how the solution addresses this. The spokesperson responded that LIFElabs are building partnerships with telecoms providers to operate as a disaster recovery solution. It’s currently advising /consulting with them about putting infrastructures in place and how LIFELabs can help BVI brace itself for future disasters.

A third service that LIFElabs plans to offer is the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model of BVI~LIFE to allow businesses to use blockchain solutions such as merchant services, peer to peer transactions, and cross-border payments.

According to CoinMarketCap LIFElabs has a LIFE token which currently has a market capitalization of less than $2 million.

Last month, Russian firm Universa spoke at a Tunisian conference about the potential for a Tunisian digital currency. Based on a Tass newswire, plans for an e-dinar were widely mis-reported as a Central Bank Digital Currency, including by Ledger Insights. Despite retweeting other articles describing it as a CBDC, Universa backtracked after the Tunisian Central Bank refuted the claims.


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