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Eastern Caribbean CBDC (DCash) Experiences Month-Long Outage

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • DCash, launched in March 2021 by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, has been offline due to a certificate problem.
  • Few businesses have been severely impacted by the outage.
  • The Central Bank is testing a fix for the certificate issue.
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The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank had to conduct urgent upgrades following an outage of the systems supporting their central bank digital currency.

One of the first central bank digital currencies, DCash, is off to a shaky start.

A digital version of the Eastern Caribbean dollar called DCash has been offline for a month. The outage may last many more days, officials say.

DCash’s teething issues provide empirical evidence that having a centralized, sovereign-backed digital currency is not a walk in the park.

“This is an important case study in things that can go wrong in the rollout and expansion of digital currency,” opines Josh Lipsky, who heads up the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center. He says that most countries attempting a large-scale rollout have experienced hiccups.

What is DCash?

DCash made international waves when the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank launched it in March 2021. It was the first example of a monetary body using digital money. All but one of the central bank’s member states are part of the pilot phase of the CBDC.

The new year wasn’t kind to the CBDC. On Jan. 14, DCash experienced a bug that halted all transactions. No user information was compromised.

Karina Johnson, a project manager for DCash at the bank, stated that the bug was caused by an expiring security certificate on the HyperLedger Fabric hosting DCash ledger.

The bank is rolling out changes to fix this problem. Johnson said that the bank is approaching the final phases of internal testing on the solution. More stakeholders will test in the next week.

Caribbean launches first CBDC

The Caribbean has been a hive of activity for CBDCs. The Bahamas launched the “Sand Dollar” in Oct. 2020, while Jamaican banking officials will launch the “Jam-Dex” later in 2022.

The Atlantic Council has revealed that 24 CBDCs have been launched or will be launched. Most have been in so-called developing nations. CBDCs are controlled and issued by governments, unlike Bitcoin, which uses a consensus algorithm to validate transactions.

A corporate in Grenada, Geo. F. Huggins & Co. says that DCash was used for few sales at their grocery outlets. The Covid-19 pandemic stifled DCash government campaigns. Hence, the uptake has been low, making the growing pains less impactful to business. Huggins was the first corporate in the region before it was launched.

Najuma Francis-Patrick, an executive at Higgins, thinks that DCash will be one of the most-used payment options in the future. She is hopeful since the currency allows anyone with a cellular phone to utilize the digital asset for shopping and paying bills.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...