British Virgin Islands Premier and Minister of Finance Andrew A. Fahie recently announced a partnership with blockchain firm LIFElabs.io to create a digital currency transaction system that can be used in the event of an emergency. According to the press release announcing the news, the goal is to create an alternative financial transaction structure that can be used to deliver money to the territory’s people during hurricanes and other disaster situations.
The British Virgin Islands’ recent experience with emergency scenarios includes 2017’s Hurricane Irma, which caused more than $3 billion in damage – roughly three times BVI’s estimated GDP. Premier Fahie outlined the need for a new approach to economic efficiency to deal with future emergencies:
“It is of utmost importance that our citizens receive immediate and proportional response in the midst of emergencies. LIFElabs’ innovative financial technology comes at a pivotal time for our people and our economy, while the memory of recent natural disasters remains fresh in our minds and hearts, and the pressure for increased economic efficiency keeps mounting. It is with high expectations that we enter into this unprecedented partnership, together, building a better BVI for the future.”
The partnership will involve island residents using the LIFEwallet app to access accounts that will receive aid funds during emergencies. The plan is to also provide SMS digital currency transmissions for residents who lack access to smartphones. According to the release, “the wallet app can also be used for peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions, or in daily commerce, purchasing essential goods and services from local businesses.”
In addition, BVI and LIFELabs will provide a blockchain-based Rapid Response Cash Fund that will accept emergency aid donations from donors around the world, and work with charitable organizations to support communities in duress.