Barbados on the edge of blockchain disruption as Bitt gets $16 million from Overstock

Rick Steves

Alongside Christopher Sinckler, the Minister of Finance of Barbados, retail giant Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne announced a closed deal with Bajan Bitcoin exchange Bitt for a $4 million Series A investment, being the first installment of a total investment of $16 million and placing Bitt’s valuation at $50 million. An investment of such magnitude further […]

Bitt gets $16 million from Overstock

Alongside Christopher Sinckler, the Minister of Finance of Barbados, retail giant Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne announced a closed deal with Bajan Bitcoin exchange Bitt for a $4 million Series A investment, being the first installment of a total investment of $16 million and placing Bitt’s valuation at $50 million.

An investment of such magnitude further reinforces the massive interest by seasoned venture capital investors in Bitcoin technology, in particular the development of blockchain,  which, aside from multi-million dollar R&D efforts by banks has attracted record funding deals, a notable example being the $116 million which 21 Inc received almost a year ago.

This historical deal puts Barbados in the center of digital currency innovation. With full support from the government, the firm pledges to modernize the financial infrastructure of Barbados and the Caribbean. In late February, Bitt launched a mobile wallet that used the Bitcoin Blockchain to keep track of a digitized version of the Barbadian dollar with the full backing of the Central Bank of Barbados.

The goal is to digitize every fiat currency used in the Caribbean, to place them on the Blockchain, and ease bottlenecks in trade between the islands. Such a modern solution will be closely eyed by other sovereign countries in the world as other governments and central banks study the adoption of distributed ledger technology.

“Bitt’s financial technology revolution will bring to consumers a faster, better, cheaper and more traceable way of banking (…) and we now have a new, multi-billion dollar backed investor to help make this vision a reality,” commented Oliver Gale, Bitt CFO and Co-Founder, adding that “Bitt is bringing modern financial solutions to a region long denied efficient settlement systems.”

Other services such as merchant and remittance solutions are also on their way to disrupt the financial sector in Barbados, in an attempt to become a trading hub and respond to the United Nations’ suggestions for the Caribbean in a paper published in January.

Called “Opportunities and risks associated with the advent of digital currency in the Caribbean”, the document concluded that “cheaper remittances systems, improvements to traditional payment systems and increased participation in the digital economy” could benefit the region’s economy, and defended a progressive model such as the “call for information” approach prior to the establishment of regulatory controls, similarly to the United Kingdom and Singapore.

The paper was critical to what was considered a high level of institutional caution on the part of regulatory authorities in Caribbean countries, and invited Central Banks to reach out to academic and research institutions, development and investment initiatives, and Ministries with responsibility for the promotion of trade and industry.

“The advent of digital currency technology represents an opportunity for Caribbean countries to revise this process, and to demonstrate that innovation has an equal place at the table in the consideration of national priorities”, concluded the UN publication. In light of recent events, Barbados’ public authorities seem to have taken UN suggestions quite seriously.

 

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