Premier Andrew Fahie announced last week that government has launched a partnership with LIFElabs.io, a cryptocurrency management company, which he claimed would help provide a “rapid cash response” in the event of emergencies.
LIFElabs.io produces its own cryptocurrency token, LIFE, as well as a mobile app called LIFEwallet that allows users to store and send LIFE, bitcoin and ether. Part of the partnership will involve the implementation of LIFElabs.io in the Virgin Islands, allowing VI residents to download the LIFEwallet on their smartphones, according to identical press releases published on LIFElab’s blog and government’s website.
Such an implementation will give VI residents access to “an account that can have funds de- posited into it whenever a disaster strikes,” according to the press release, which noted that that LIFE also plans to provision for digital currencies to be transferred over text message for those who don’t have smart phones.
The digital wallet will reportedly work for peer-to-peer transactions and in daily commerce with local businesses.
The press release does not make clear how exactly such a digital account would assist individuals in a post-disaster setting, and Mr. Fahie (R-D1) — who the press release describes as a “thought leader” in the “blockchain technology space” — could not be reached for comment to discuss that claim.
LIFElab does advertise a “LIFEcard,” which is a pre-paid debit card that will reportedly process card-based payments using the cryptocurrencies managed by the company’s wallet app.
The press release also mentioned that such a partnership could assist the overall territory with cash flow in emergency settings.
“LIFElabs.io will also allow people from across the world to donate directly to the BVI/LIFE Rapid Response Cash Fund in the event of an emergency, with incoming funds confirmed on the blockchain by anyone with access to the internet,” it reads. “Local charities will also be able to play a key part in supporting communities that require immediate help.”
The charity platform, the press releases explained, will also allow members of the public to track their donations and see how they’re being used.
“It is estimated that adopters of our blockchain Platform as a Service (PaaS) will reduce their current transactional fees in excess of 50 percent,” Sanjay Jadhav, LIFElabs.io’s chief executive officer, said in the press release, “all while incurring zero out-of-pocket cost to implement it, speeding the average transaction time exponentially compared to Automated Clearing House electronic payments, wired or over-the-counter cash transactions.”
Mr. Fahie, Ministry of Finance officials and Government Information Services officials did not respond to requests for comment regarding how much the partnership will cost government.
As of yesterday morning, LIFE tokens were trading at $0.000187, according to CoinMarketCap, a website that tracks the values of various cryptocurrencies.