Antigua and Barbuda’s House of Representatives passed a cryptocurrency regulation bill on May 27. With this bill, they have taken steps towards becoming digital asset-friendly destinations in the Caribbean.

The regulatory framework, called “The Digital Assets Business Bill 2020”, aims to regulate crypto companies that establish their operations on the island and provide protection for both exchanges and their customers.

Among the critical inputs of the bill is the rule that all digital asset businesses in Antigua and Barbuda must obtain a license for “issuing, selling, or redeeming virtual coins,” operating as a payment service or electronic exchange, providing custodial wallet services, among others.

Failure to comply with the legislation may subject companies to fines of up to $250,000. Managers may also face criminal charges, including jail time.

Crypto industry players took a role in advising the draft bill

The bill would empower the country’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission, or FSRC, to ensure that crypto companies enforce the legal framework.

Ayre Group, nChain, Bayesian Fund, and the Bitcoin Association were some of the industry members that advised the government as they drafted the framework.

Calvin Ayre, Economic Envoy for Technology for Antigua and Barbuda, has been an active voice in the country in favor of the crypto adoption and establishing a regulatory infrastructure.

In statements through his website, Ayre said the following:

“With this Act, Antigua is now at the front of the list of countries set to benefit from the application and tokenization explosion that is happening in front of our eyes on BSV.”

Last steps before the final approval

The final obstacle to the bill being passed will be the Antiguan Senate, which some consider a mere formality.

In the Caribbean, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, or ECCB, proposed in 2018 a pilot program to issue a blockchain-based digital currency backed by the central bank, to which Antigua and Barbuda adhere, who also use the common money known as the dollar of the Central Caribbean.

The pilot program, called DXCD, includes the following phases: development and testing, followed by rollout and implementation in the Caribbean countries for about six months. This could occur between June and December 2020.