Editorial: Are Caribbean islands ready to implement Blockchain?

St.Georges, Grenada

As a Trinidadian national now living in South Korea, and learning about blockchain through my job, I keep thinking that this technology can be quite useful in my Caribbean region.

Why? Isn’t the Caribbean just a tourist destination. It is a tourist destination, but there is more that occurs in the region than just holiday packages.

There are several sectors at work in these islands: agriculture and fisheries, oil and natural gas exploration, minerals mining, finance, and yes, tourism.

For some Caribbean islands (Grenada, Dominica, St.Lucia etc) much of their GDP comes from agriculture, which sadly takes a hit every year during hurricane season. Even US territories in the region such as Puerto Rico experienced devastation during 2017’s hurricane season where there was island wide power outage.

Recently, an Australian blockchain power technology provider, Power Ledger, has started working with factories and regulators to help Puerto Rican firms finance so-called microgrid resources such as solar panels and battery storage. It will then use its blockchain tech to allow the companies to trade power from those resources with each other, and to sell supplies to their employees or local communities. Through this exchange, people will be able to buy power in cash, cryptocurrency or — if a company desires— labour.

For other islands that are heavily engaged in the financial sector, Bermuda, Cayman islands,Barbados etc, blockchain has been suggested as an avenue to ensure transparency of funds into the islands, and even as a means of boosting dwindling foreign reserves (Barbados’ issue). In order for the Barbadian economy to benefit from blockchain technology, greater emphasis would have to be placed on three key areas — an effective information communication technology infrastructure; a highly skilled work force and the right regulatory environment — which are present in their economy. West Indian scholars have also suggested that the Central Bank of Barbados include digital assets in its reserves.

For the other sectors not yet mentioned, I believe that blockchain technology can assist in land settlement disputes for those estates where squatters reside, and minerals tracking in those Caribbean states where gold and diamond mining occur. Also for the travel industry that requires the constant flow of customers’ flight and hotel information, blockchain’s decentralised feature can easily fulfill this need.

The Caribbean region is primed for the widespread adoption of blockchain technology in its various sectors. It is my hope that both the governments and private sectors cooperate for this to happen.

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