28- Apr2021
Posted By: BASL

Bitcoin ATM and Bitcoin Investments Not Authorised by Regulators in ECCU

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission (ECSRC) and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) of Antigua and Barbuda have been made aware of the establishment of Bitcoin Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) which allow for the purchase of fractions of Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash up to a daily limit of USD$900 (EC$2,430), at various locations in Antigua and Barbuda.

We advise the public that these Bitcoin ATMs and the services provided are not currently regulated by the ECCB, the ECSRC or the FSRC of Antigua and Barbuda.

In recognition of the prerequisites for the transition to a digital economy, the ECCB launched a project for the development of a legislative framework for the regulation of virtual assets and other fintech initiatives. Through the collaboration with member governments and national regulators across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), a “Virtual Assets Bill” was developed. This legislation was approved by the Monetary Council and recommended for enactment in member countries in February 2021.

We refer the public to the 6 April 2021 notice on virtual assets issued by the FSRC, which was carried in the local news, circulated in the local newspapers and shared with each financial institution in Antigua and Barbuda. Click here to view FSRC notice.

In Antigua and Barbuda, the Digital Assets Business Act, which aims to regulate digital asset companies and provide protection for digital asset exchanges and their clients, was passed in 2020. This Act gives the FSRC authority to enforce the legal framework among the relevant companies, but the infrastructure especially the regulations are not yet in place to comprehensively regulate the activities of Bitcoin and other virtual assets and entities. These regulations are currently being prepared.

Until the appropriate legislative arrangements are completed and in place, it is recommended that members of the public proceed with caution when engaging with Bitcoin and other virtual assets and entities. Before involvement with these initiatives, citizens are advised to consider the following questions:

What do I know about this service provider and the services being offered?

Do I understand both the opportunities and the risks?

Is this service provider regulated and by whom?

Does this service provider have appropriate anti-money laundering (AML) controls?

What dispute resolution mechanisms exists if there is a dispute with this service provider?

The ECCB, ECSRC and FSRC of Antigua and Barbuda recognise that financial innovation is essential; however, the appropriate legal and regulatory framework is necessary to protect the integrity of the financial system and investors and consumers alike.

Members of the public are asked to be guided accordingly.