Dominica approves legislation governing virtual currencies

The Dominica government has defended its decision to pass the Virtual Asset Business legislation saying the emergence of virtual assets regionally and globally has generated growi8ng public interest and diverse legislative responses.

The island joins St. Kitts-Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda in the nine- member sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) that have passed similar legislation.

“A virtual asset is a digital representation of value that can be traded or transferred digitally. Virtual assets can be used for making payments or investments,”  said Planning and Economic Development,  Dr. Vince Henderson told Parliament on Monday night.

He said crypto currencies such as bit coins are examples of virtual assets and that “although the trading or transfer of virtual assets do not currently pose a material risk to financial stability here in Dominica, our government has recognised the need to put the necessary regulatory framework in place”.

He said this will ensure vigilant monitoring of this new rapidly developing and potentially disruptive financial instrument.

Henderson said the Virtual Asset Business Bill has been drafted with the assistance of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and “the idea is to have a harmonised legislation across all member states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) since all members operate within a single monetary space”.

Opposition legislator, Clement Marcellin in supporting the legislation, said it offers opportunities for Dominica and is in synced with the thrust towards a digital economy.

“With the emergence of technology the potential benefits that could be derived with the adequate use of those technologies makes business cheaper, easier, faster and overall limits the direct need for cash and by doing so it expands the financial foot print.”.

Marcellin said that the worth of digital currencies have increased in years and as such “opens up a niche…and initiative for young people of Dominica to benefit tremendously…”

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