Skip to main content

Cruising: Paying with Sand Dollars

The new system will enable banking services throughout the archipelago 

The new system will enable banking services throughout the archipelago 

The next time you visit the Bahamas you may find that the people there are carrying a lot less cash. And that’s a good thing. It’s not that they don’t have money, but that they’re using a new type of digital currency that they’re calling “Sand Dollars.”

In a drive-by the central bank to modernize the Bahamas’ payment system and move consumers away from a historical reliance on cash, Project Sand Dollar was designed as a pilot program and rolled out on Exuma in December 2019. It has been favorably received by the public, enough so that there are now plans to expand it to the entire country.

In a press release, the bank emphasized that the digital currency is not a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, or a competitor to the Bahamian dollar. Rather it represents a digital version of existing paper currency—legal tender, intended to aid consumers and businesses with limited access to a physical bank. “It will never be different,” says central bank governor, John Rolle. “It can’t differ in value in any way or the other, so Sand Dollars can never be priced differently from Bahamian dollars.”

“As an archipelago,” Rolle adds. “The Bahamas is made up of many dispersed, low-density communities, for which provision of market-based financial services through physical installed infrastructure has either not been feasible or is becoming increasingly less feasible.”

Participating residents can pay retailers through digital wallet–linked QR codes (machine-scannable images that can be read using a Smartphone camera) with existing banks moving funds in digital form. The belief by the central bank is that this will cut currency printing costs, lower transaction fees and allow more Bahamians to participate in the banking system.

The new currency will have limits, though. Businesses may not have more than $1 million in their digital accounts and can’t transact more than one-eighth of their digital wealth per month. Similarly, residents are limited to $500. And though Sand Dollars are restricted to Bahamian residents, plans are in motion to include foreign exchange in the future. For the latest on the program, visit sanddollar.bs

May 2021

Related

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more

ntm

Notice to Mariners: U.S.A! U.S.A! (Well, sorta…)

Some thoughts on a couple of recent developments on the U.S. racing scene that are more than a little at odds. To start with, congratulations to the US Sailing Team (USST) and its outstanding showing at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, France, with not one but ...read more

01-LEAD-11-Katrina-Zoe-Norbom-850_9438

The 52 Super Series

The 52 Super Series is widely considered one of the top circuits in the world for monohulls, and in this era of rapid change, the TP52—or TransPacific 52—has managed to stay the series’ boat of choice for 10 years. Not only that, but as the class marks its 20th anniversary the ...read more