A Barbadian blockchain technology company is set to play a key role in helping the region’s tourism industry track visitor spend and improve competitiveness.
The Hastings, Christ Church-based Bitt, which describes itself as the first to bring cryptocurrency exchange to the Caribbean, this morning signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Barbados headquartered Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), aimed at facilitating the implementation of more efficient payment processes for tourism-related products and services.
CTO General Secretary Hugh Riley said the tourism development agency was keen on embracing new technology to help boost the sector and answer a number of questions, especially relating to tourism spend.
Riley said the new partnership would be advantageous to the tourism sector, explaining that it paved the way for safer and cheaper transactions.
“The MOU is an opportunity to collaborate and explore possibilities. We know going in that there is one clear possibility of reducing the cost and increasing the level of security of financial transactions. Every time we as a region are able to reduce the cost of our transaction we are in fact increasing our competitiveness. So that is a very clear responsibility that we have in these kinds of arrangements,” Riley said.
“We already have a number of questions which have been raised by our research department here at the CTO. They are anxious to see how the MOU can lead to answering the questions about visitor spend – following the way money is spent and how the tourism dollar is permeating all sectors of our society. So we believe this MOU between the CTO and Bitt will open doors that will benefit the member countries of the CTO, as well as the Caribbean public in general,” he added.
Opting not to give details of potential projects, Bitt Chief Executive Officer Rawdon Adams said the agreement would pave the way for both organizations to work on a range of initiatives to improve the tourism offerings and visitor experience in Barbados and the rest of the region.
“With this type of technology and reducing costs and deficiency and increasing productivity we can actually include a far greater section of the broader economy, and in particular, small merchants, and thereby increase overall profits to the sector,” Adams told a brief news conference this morning at the CTO’s Warrens, St Michael headquarters.
Explaining that the partnership would make way “for exploratory purposes into what kinds of projects we can collaborate on”, Adams added that “certainly we have one project in mind that would be extremely helpful in revitalizing certain parts of the tourism project in Barbados and the wider region … but we would prefer not to talk about it right here right now”.
While the officials could not immediately say how soon the first initiative would be rolled out, they agreed that some level of education would be required for merchants and regional governments.
Pointing to a similar agreement signed recently between the blockchain technology company and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to engage in a pilot project to begin next year, Adams said he was satisfied with the level of acceptability.
“So when you have a major central bank sign that kind of MOU with you . . . I would say that the acceptability, I am pretty comfortable with the level we have,” he said.