Banking authorities have advised citizens in Antigua and Barbuda to avoid using the Bitcoin ATMs that were installed across the islands last week.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission (ECSRC), and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), said that the ATMs “are not currently regulated” and it is important that members of the public “proceed with caution” when engaging with the crypto-cash machines.
The confirmation comes a week after the Caribbean country installed crypto ATMs across the country, allowing people to purchase a small amount of Bitcoin cash.
The central bank argues that Antigua and Barbuda do not have the infrastructure to comprehensively regulate such investments.
The announcement has surprised analysts across the region. That is because earlier this year, the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union framed a legislative bill to regulate virtual assets. Even its Monetary Council approved the bill in a matter of weeks, recommending the member states to enact a legal framework.
Antigua and Barbuda quickly enacted a law and prepared a stage for trading in bitcoins. Now, however, the central bank is saying that the infrastructure is not enough to regulate such a risky investment.
Cryptocurrencies have been an issue of huge interest in Antigua and Barbuda of late. It recently became the second country to launch its own cryptocurrency called Dcash, saying the blockchain-based currency could ease financial transactions for people without a bank account.
The country even went to the extent of announcing that it would accept Bitcoins from foreigners seeking the country’s citizenship.
Unlike bitcoin, Dcash is issued by an official central bank and tied to the existing Eastern Caribbean dollar.