Bequia, the 18-square-kilometre Caribbean island, was by Euronews in late April 2021 confirmed as the world’s first fully Bitcoin-enabled community. The transfer to Bitcoin has become a necessary action after island communities have gotten cut off from financial systems due to ‘derisking’ initiated by international banks.
A local development company, One Bequia, intends to build 39 luxury villas and claims to be “the only real estate development in the Caribbean to accept Bitcoin.” The head of the project, Storm Gonsalves, opined that “the adoption of cryptocurrency is far from a gimmick,” but a reaction to the international banks’ act of cutting the islands off from their banking services.
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Compounding the risks of this for small islands, they not only stand the risk of being cut off from international trade and commerce, but tourism-based economies are in an even more detrimental position. The initiative to create an ecosystem that takes payment of all products and services with Bitcoin may mitigate these risks. Cryptocurrency transactions are based on internet connections and do not require banking facilities, which makes them an easier alternative for monetary transactions on the island. Cryptocurrencies are not only a financial instrument but a philosophy for the islanders.
Bequia is not the only island to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrency; Barbados, Bermuda and St Vincent are also leading the pack in the venture to create their own financial services to support their economies.