Simplified Lending salutes Central Bank for making digital currency history
Progressive financial services provider Simplified Lending today lauded Central Bank of The Bahamas, calling its move to roll out a national digital currency ahead of major industrialized countries ‘historic’ and ‘a giant step’ that will help catapult The Bahamas to a more sophisticated platform in the eyes of those who watch official monetary movements.
Simplified Lending founder and CEO Robert Pantry also said his firm which has more than tripled in size since its launch two years ago would jump on the opportunity to explore using the digital currency to speed up the process of approving and disbursing loan proceeds.
“On October 20, The Bahamas became the first country to roll out a central bank digital currency with the successful launch of the Sand Dollar,” said Simplified Lending CEO Robert Pantry. “This is a giant step in digital currency history, putting The Bahamas ahead of economic powers like China and the US in modernization of domestic payment systems.”
Ironically, Pantry said, the decision to pursue a national digital currency arose not because of a desire to get out of the gate first, but from a need to find an alternative solution for residents in far-flung Family Islands where banking options are limited or non-existent and becoming even moreso.
“By creating the digital version of the Bahamian dollar backed by Central Bank giving it the same value as a physical dollar you can hold in your hand, Central Bank is meeting the needs of thousands of people and hundreds of businesses who need to pay their bills, buy goods and supplies and engage in trade without worrying about a brick-and-mortar bank branch,” said Pantry, adding that along with filling a void, the Sand Dollar increases efficiency and reduces overall service delivery costs.
“It virtually turns your cellphone into your bank so long as you are dealing with a payment or transfer with any merchant who has a Central Bank approved e-wallet,” he noted.
Pantry, a veteran banker and former Managing Director of RBC FINCO who founded Simplified Lending to provide a personalized, faster and innovative service than many banks can, said the recent announcement by a major financial institution to close most of its Family Island branches makes the need for a secure, efficient financial payment system all the more critical.
“Scotiabank was the most recent to announce impending closure of several Family Island branches, the latest to follow a trend as banks encourage customers to use online services. Many people are still afraid of e-banking because of cyber security threats and for them, the closure of a bank meant returning to the old-fashioned way of finding someone to take money to Nassau to pay bills. Even for those who are comfortable with online banking, the advantage of a Sand Dollar transaction is its speed. The minute it hits a digital wallet, it is good as gold. There’s no waiting for a payment to move from one bank account to another.
“Peer-to-peer is the way of the future as we move toward a cashless society and it is exciting to see The Bahamas take the lead,” he added. “Interestingly enough, the Sand Dollar introduction is making history while the penny is fading into history. That is also an intelligent move on the part of Central Bank.” It costs more than a penny to make a penny and advocates of its removal from active currency have argued for years that its weight and volume bog down systems and bear high transportation costs.
Financial services regulators say the national digital currency will also strengthen efforts against money laundering, illicit activities and counterfeiting.
Six financial institutions have been granted the ability to provide Sand Dollars to residents including Omni Financial Group, Cash & Go, Mobile Assist, Kanoo, Money Maxx and Sun Cash. Banks and other financial institutions are expected to be added soon.
ABOUT SIMPLIFIED LENDING
Simplified offers a relationship-based platform providing direct lending for micro and small business loans. It also provide a platform for bringing borrowers together with a wide range of prospective lenders and investors who compete for acceptance of commercial loans and mortgages. Its Head Office is located in Caves Village, West Bay Street, Nassau, Bahamas.