Bequia, an 18-square-kilometer island in the Caribbean’s Grenadines archipelago, is poised to become one of the most Bitcoin-integrated communities in the world.
“The One Bequia development, where 39 luxury villas are set to be built, will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean to accept bitcoin as payment for the properties,” according to a recent report from Euronews. “Bitcoin will also be accepted as payment for everyday essentials at the development’s grocery store as well as its restaurant, café and cinema.”
It may seem that Bitcoin-enabled transactions throughout the development are merely tourist attractions — more of a Bubba Gump-style activation than a community taking charge of its financial wellbeing, as in El Salvador’s Bitcoin Beach. But the property developers behind One Bequia stress that Bitcoin is a very necessary alternative to legacy financial services, or lack thereof.
“Residents of small island nations are finding it increasingly difficult to send and receive money internationally because of ‘derisking’ by large international banks,” Storm Gonsalves, the development’s manager and a native of the Caribbean, told Euronews. “This prevents the island-based banks from transacting internationally. If this trend continues it means small island nations will be essentially cut off from international trade and commerce. For tourism-based economies, this will be devastating.”
Residents and governments in the Caribbean have adopted cryptocurrencies as a solution to these problems in the past, but most of this adoption has centered around altcoins or centrally-managed digital currencies. But the vision for One Bequia appears to be more focused on the decentralized conviction of Bitcoiners.
“Not everyone understands the advantage of cryptocurrencies. People are still skeptical,” Gonsalves said. “Early crypto investors are not your typical speculators and they believe strongly in the philosophy of decentralization behind Bitcoin/blockchain. They are not your typical speculator.”