Caribbean Island Becomes Bitcoin Nation: Interview with Sarah Blincoe, Project Manager
Project Manager Sarah Blincoe agreed to speak with Cointelegraph today and answer a few questions about how the “Let the Bit Drop” project came to be and what the future might hold.
The “Let the Bit Drop” campaign to bring Bitcoin to a small Caribbean island was announced about two weeks ago but the name of the island was not known. That information was announced yesterday and the island selected is Dominica. Dominica is a small island in the Eastern Caribbean with a population of only 70,000 people. The project is designed to put Bitcoin into the hands of the entire population, powered by smartphones and mobile wallets. The infrastructure is supported by Coinapult and two different telecomm companies.
Project Manager Sarah Blincoe agreed to speak with Cointelegraph today and answer a few questions about how the project came to be and what the future might hold.
Cointelegraph: Can you give our readers some background on “Let the Bit Drop” campaign? Where did the idea come from and how did it develop?
SB: The Bitcoin community constantly talks about how to increase adoption. The idea came from just that - how to get the Bitcoin technology in as many people hands as possible, and why not do it all at once through SMS. We also really wanted to provide an opportunity for education and actual use of Bitcoin so the party came hand in hand. The islanders will be able to immediately use their Bitcoin at the Piday party on March 14, 2015.
CT: Dominica is an interesting choice. The nation has made a number of changes recently and is now considered the 63rd freest economy in the world. Did these changes have any effect on your decision to locate there?
Sarah Blincoe: Certainly a free economy helps projects like these succeed. These scores are taken from a very high view, though. On the ground, things can often be much freer or more restrictive, depending on the individuals and situation. In this case, we have found the local communities and leaders’ very supportive and forward thinking. Perhaps Dominica should be considered for a significantly higher score next year.
CT: We understand that there are plans to install ATMs on the island. Will these ATMs allow fiat cash withdrawals and, if so, are you using a local bank or digital payment service?
SB: Our goal is to have BTMs placed on the island permanently and help local companies and merchants set up with POS systems so the use of Bitcoin within the islanders will grow as well as providing a direct link for Bitcoin tourism to boom on the beautiful nature filled island.
CT: How much support does the project have in the local business community and are there parts of the local businesses community that are resisting the idea?
SB: The project is new but we have been in contact with many local businesses about Bitcoin and are currently working on educational materials to be distributed around the island for all residents.
CT: How does your project differ from the Auroracoin Airdrop in March, 2014 in Iceland? Does the difference in economic standings between the two nations become a factor?
SB: A quote from Ira Miller CEO of Coinapult -
“AuroraCoin tried to reinvent the wheel, and was basically eaten by Bitcoin’s much stronger network. We are playing on the strengths of Bitcoin, not trying to compete with it. “
CT: How will you measure success with this project?
SB: Two good metrics are transaction volume on Drop day and in the following months. These will show us what kind of impact Bitcoin has on the local economy more than just the number of users. If 5% of Dominica starts using Bitcoin daily that would have an even greater impact than if 50% of them use it for a day and then stop. That being said, if 50% of Dominicans all recover their Bitcoins successfully and do a few transactions that will already be a huge win!
CT: If the project is successful will you be expanding into other regions?
SB: We will absolutely be expanding The Bit Drop to other regions. We are already advanced in talks with three other Caribbean nations, and have been contacted by interested and supportive groups from all over the world.
The project team consists of Ira Miller, CEO Coinapult, Francis Ford, Senior Advisor, Aspen Assurance, Jeremy Gardiner, Director of the College Cryptocurrency Network and the Honorable Doctor Kenneth Darroux, Minister of the Environment & Physical Planning, which Sarah Blincoe as Project Manager. If this experiment is successful it could be an economic windfall to many residents of the Third World who have little or no access to banking services.