A CARIBBEAN island could become the first place in the world to use Bitcoin instead of money.
Luxury home owners on Bequia will be able to use the digital cryptocurrency to do their grocery shopping or buy a coffee, developers say.
A small number of shops around the world already accept Bitcoin as payment and a few houses have been sold using it in the UK.
But planners say their new development on paradise isle Bequia will be "the world's first fully Bitcoin-enabled community".
The 39 luxury villas will be sold in the cryptocurrency.
And Bitcoin will be taken as payment for everyday essentials at the development's shop, restaurant, café and cinema.
Locals on Bequia – known as "the island in the clouds" – will continue to use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, with Queen Elizabeth II on notes and coins.
What is Bitcoin?
BITCOIN got you baffled? Here’s what you need to know:
- Bitcoin is a virtual currency
- It's traded between people without the help of a bank
- Every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, or "blockchain"
- Bitcoin is created by mining
- Mining involves solving difficult maths problems using computer processors
- Bitcoin can be traded anonymously, which can make it a popular way of funding illegal activities
- The value of Bitcoin fluctuates wildly
- Bitcoin is one of many different cryptocurrencies, but by far the most popular
Developers say using Bitcoin is increasingly more of a necessity than a ploy to attract people's attention, reports Euro News.
"The adoption of cryptocurrency is far from a gimmick," said Storm Gonsalves, the property mogul behind the One Bequia project.
"It’s a response to the very real challenges faced by island communities increasingly cut off from mainstream banking facilities."
He said many residents of small island nations have been blocked by international banks from sending or receiving money overseas.
He added: "This has pushed many Caribbean island nations to adopt blockchain and other cryptocurrencies a lot faster than other more developed nations.
"Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados and now St Vincent are leading the way in this regard."
In March, the Eastern Caribbean became the first digital currency union in the world with the launch of "DCash" across four island nations: St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis.
Bequia – pronounced "beck way" – is a seven-mile strip of white sandy beaches and lush mountains in the remote Grenadines archipelago.
A-list celebs on yachts are known to drop by for an under-the-radar dip in the blue sea or a drink at one of the straw beach bars.
Princess Margaret's Bay is named after the royal who swam there in the 1950s.
And her sister the Queen – who is head of state – visited with Prince Philip in 1985.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency with units created by computer code and stored in a digital "wallet".
Its value soared this year to over $62,000, in part thanks to a boost by Elon Musk who revealed he had invested $1.5bn in the currency.
He also said customers will soon be able to use it to buy one of his Telsa electric cars.
Around 20,000 shops around the world take Bitcoin as well as many retailers online.
In 2017 a four-bedroom newbuild in Essex became the first house in the UK sold in Bitcoin.
Their value is highly volatile and City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority has warned investors should be prepared to lose all their money.
Authorities have also warned cryptocurrencies are used by criminals to hide the source of their wealth.
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