By Christal Clashing
“I want to see at least three thousand Antiguans become millionaires within the next fifty years,” proclaims CEO of SSID Financial Ltd, Dr Hugh Jarvis. This is the vision Dr Jarvis has for Antigua and Barbuda when it comes to the potential of cryptocurrency and the technology behind it. It is an audacious claim – a goal that can be shrugged off as unrealistic and unattainable. Yet, on Monday 15th March 2021 and Friday 19th March 2021, Antigua’s first Bitcoin ATMs went live at each of the two SSID Financial Ltd locations last week. The first one to go live was on the Sir Sydney Walling Highway at the Khouly Business Complex. The second went live on Friday at the SSID location in Jolly Harbour.
This installation of Bitcoin ATMs adds to the growing interest among several Antiguans and Barbudans in digital currencies and crypto-assets. On 8th August 2020, Hemmingways Restaurant in St. John’s became the first restaurant in Antigua to accept Bitcoin Cash. Since then approximately fifty places of businesses across the island display the sticker that says “Bitcoin Cash (BCH) accepted here.”
Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash
The new Bitcoin ATMs allow you to purchase and redeem both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. What’s the difference? Bitcoin, the first and original cryptocurrency, is best used as a long-term investment. Bitcoin Cash, on the other hand, while it can be also used as an investment, is more geared for day-to-day transactions at restaurants and small businesses. Compared to the regular EC dollar or the US dollar, which is called fiat currency, cryptocurrencies act as assets where they can increase (or decrease) in value over time.
At the time of writing this article, one Bitcoin is valued at USD$56,197.86. Hypothetically speaking, if you had bought a Bitcoin at when it was valued at USD$100, you would have a strong investment on your hands. Bitcoin Cash currently stands at USD$516.95 so it’s more attainable than Bitcoin. However, it is key to note that you can purchase fractions of Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash. That is what the new Bitcoin ATMs or BATMs allow you to do. You can purchase as little or as much Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash up to a USD$900 limit in one day. This allows you to invest as little or as much as you feel comfortable doing.
Antigua light years ahead of the rest of the OECS
The BATMs going live signals a stepping up of the cryptocurrency game in Antigua and Barbuda. Prior to the BATM installation in the country, residents who wanted to exchange their Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash for fiat currency would have to do so overseas. With the BATMs now on the island, cryptocurrency holders do not have to wait to go to London to get cash from their cryptocurrency investments. Instead, it may be persons within the region coming to Antigua and Barbuda to cash in their crypto investments.
Of all the OECS countries, Antigua and Barbuda has made the greatest strides in the cryptocurrency world. This is due to a government that is open and friendly towards major players in the cryptocurrency space. In not enforcing too many restrictions and regulations on cryptocurrencies, it allows us as a people and a nation to explore this new area of investment.
What you need to get started with Bitcoin ATMs
The BATMs at both SSID Financial Ltd branches differ slightly; however, they follow the same basic process. You would first need to download the “Bitcoin.com Wallet” app on your Android or iOS phone and follow the onscreen instructions to set up and backup your account. At the SSID Financial Ltd branch, you pay XCD$2 at the front desk to conduct the transaction. Then you follow the instructions on the BATM screen to insert multiples of USD$20 bills into the machine. You will verify your transaction with a code sent to your mobile phone and once the transaction has gone through, you will be alerted on the “Bitcoin.com Wallet” app.
In less than ten minutes you can begin your journey into cryptocurrency investment.