Central Bank of The Bahamas: Everything You Need To Know in 2024

Central Bank of The Bahamas
Mario Carey

The Bahamas is gaining more popularity as an ideal destination for US Citizens and other foreign nationals worldwide. When contemplating a move to a new area, one might ponder, “What banking options are available in the region?”

Upon a quick search of available banks, one of the first banks you will stumble upon is the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

When you consider banks, you likely envision a place where you manage your finances—deposits, mortgage loans, the whole deal. However, this is another type of bank that oversees the financial system as a whole.  

Don’t worry if this sounds confusing. We’ll delve into the fascinating realm of this influential institution, examining its crucial role in upholding stability and nurturing economic growth in The Bahamas.


What is the Central Bank of The Bahamas?

bahamas island beach

The Central Bank of The Bahamas is the entity that maintains the stability of the country’s overall financial system. 

Unlike typical banks, The Central Bank of The Bahamas doesn’t receive deposits from or provide loans to the public. Instead, it actively serves as a financial partner for other banks and the government, playing a crucial role in managing their financial affairs.

Where is the Central Bank of The Bahamas Located?

The Central Bank of The Bahamas is based in the capital, Nassau, on the corner of Market and Duke Streets. 

Nassau has a thriving political and business district that encompasses many international head offices, as well as Parliament Square, The Supreme Court of The Bahamas, and other government offices.

Read more: How to Buy a Home in Nassau

Who Owns the Central Bank of The Bahamas?

Under the Central Bank of The Bahamas Act, 2020, the Board of Directors owns and controls the Central Bank. This Board, appointed by the Governor General, plays a pivotal role in shaping the Bank’s policies and overseeing its general administration.

It’s essential to emphasize that the Central Bank operates independently of the political group in power. The current government does not influence their decisions. Instead, a supervisory body within the financial institution guides them. 

This independence is crucial to ensure the stability of the financial system, allowing the Central Bank to steer the financial ship smoothly, regardless of the political landscape.


Central Bank of The Bahamas: Services & Responsibilities

As the key player responsible for the overall stability of the system, the bank shoulders a host of services and responsibilities. From preventing money laundering to ensuring markets are stable, The Central Bank undertakes a wide array of duties.

Having laid the groundwork for what the Central Bank of The Bahamas is, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of its operations. 

Monetary Policy

The primary aim of monetary policy in The Bahamas is to maintain stability, specifically ensuring a fixed value between the Bahamian and U.S. dollars since 1973. This stability goal encompasses both domestic and international currency values, while the developmental objective focuses on promoting local production, employment, and growth.

To achieve these objectives, the Central Bank employs tools such as reserve requirements, changes in the Bank discount rate, and selective credit controls supported by moral suasion. 

Moral suasion is a persuasive approach used by the Central Bank to influence financial institutions and markets without resorting to formal regulations. It uses persuasion and informal discussions to encourage financial institutions to follow desired policies, relying on a sense of responsibility within the financial community.

The Central Bank closely monitors credit and liquidity conditions, adjusting interest rates to signal policy changes. While market operations are somewhat limited, recent instances showcase the Central Bank using measures like moral suasion to encourage conservative lending during economic challenges. 

Playing a crucial role in tracking and reviewing monetary trends, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was established in 1980. Although lacking statutory authority, the MPC’s recommendations form the basis for policy actions taken by the Central Bank, ultimately guided by the Governor.


Through its Banking Department, the Central Bank facilitates specific types of investment for both institutional and individual investors. Through its Open Market Operations, trading of public sector securities like Treasury bills or Bahamas Registered Stock is conducted in both the primary and secondary markets to ensure a well-functioning capital market.

Serving as the Official Registrar and Transfer Agent, the Central Bank supports primary and secondary markets for the Government’s local currency securities, including Treasury bills. In the secondary market, Treasury bills are sold, providing short-term financing to the Government at market-determined costs.

For the Bridge Authority’s bonds, both primary and secondary market registration activities are supported. In the case of The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, the Central Bank, acts as registrar and can facilitate secondary market trades between interested parties.

Exchange Control

Exchange Controls are regulations governing foreign currency transactions between residents of The Bahamas and non-residents. Established by the Exchange Control Act (1952) and Regulations (1956), they trace back to the Sterling Area’s common pooling of gold and foreign currency reserves. Dissolving in 1972, The Bahamas chose to maintain Exchange Controls to ensure disciplined use of foreign currency reserves and support its Balance of Payments.

This decision aligns with the country’s economic structure—a small, open, developing, export-oriented economy, heavily reliant on tourism. Exchange Control serves as a tool for economic and monetary policy, aiming to preserve external reserves, maintain fixed rate parity with the U.S. Dollar, control money supply expansion, and monitor foreign currency inflows and outflows.

In the broader macro policy mix, Exchange Control arrangements enable a clear distinction between the domestic and offshore sectors, addressing the unique challenges of a tourism-dependent economy and supporting economic diversification goals.

Bank Supervision

In line with The Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act, 2000, and The Central Bank of The Bahamas Act, 2000, the Central Bank of The Bahamas holds the responsibility for licensing, regulating, and overseeing banks and trust companies operating within The Bahamas. 

All licensees must comply with the Central Bank’s licensing and prudential requirements, participating in ongoing supervisory programs, including regular onsite inspections and mandatory regulatory reporting.

Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CFP)

The Central Bank of The Bahamas actively supports and enforces AML/CFT/CFP laws and regulations in collaboration with The Bahamas and its financial regulatory agencies.

They play a vital role by:

  1. Creating and implementing regulations to thwart and uncover money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing within supervised financial institutions.
  1. Evaluating the risks connected with financial crimes on both a national and individual institution basis.
  1. Performing surveillance and examinations, encompassing off-site and on-site evaluations, to verify the adherence of supervised financial institutions to AML/CFT/CFP laws and regulations.
  1. Offering guidance and training to financial institutions, aiding them in comprehending their responsibilities and implementing robust AML/CFT/CFP measures.

The Central Bank’s proactive measures contribute significantly to preventing and detecting financial crimes, ensuring that supervised financial institutions have robust systems and controls in place to keep The Bahamas a safe place to live.

Deposit Insurance

While the Central Bank mandates banks to maintain robust risk management and internal controls, it doesn’t assure the solvency of individual banks. To address the possibility of bank failure, a deposit insurance scheme is in place, safeguarding small Bahamian depositors from potential losses in case of a bank’s closure. 

This safety net minimizes the risk of a widespread bank run triggered by rumors, fostering depositor confidence and contributing to the overall financial stability goal of the Central Bank.

It’s crucial to note that deposit insurance payouts are applicable when a member institution is closed due to actions taken by the Central Bank.


More About the Central Bank of The Bahamas

Central Bank building

What Currency Note Does the Central Bank of The Bahamas Use?

The Central Bank of The Bahamas issues and manages the Bahamian dollar. It is the official currency note used by the Central Bank in The Bahamas.  

The Bahamian dollar closely aligns with the United States dollar.  

dollar bills

Central Bank of The Bahamas Exchange Rate

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has specific exchange rates for U.S. dollars. When commercial banks buy U.S. dollars from the Central Bank, the rate is US$1.00 = B$1.00. When they sell U.S. dollars to the Central Bank, the rate is US$1.00 = B$1.0025. For cash transactions, the exchange is on par.

This is especially beneficial for those looking to compare prices on places to live in The Bahamas.

As for Pound Sterling, the Central Bank gets its rates from the international market at 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and other times as needed based on market conditions. If you’re selling Pound Sterling, the Central Bank adds a 0.5% commission to the mid-rate.

What is the Central Bank of The Bahamas Act?

The Central Bank of The Bahamas Act, enacted in 2020, is a pivotal piece of legislation. It serves as the fundamental set of rules, outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Central Bank. 

This act is like the roadmap, providing clear guidance on how the Central Bank operates. It ensures transparency and accountability, and sets the standards for the Central Bank’s vital role in maintaining the country’s financial stability.


How to Buy Property in The Bahamas

The Central Bank of The Bahamas is not merely a financial institution; it’s a strategic partner fostering resilience and growth for other banks and the government.

As you embark on your exploration of The Bahamas, MCR is your reliable guide to navigating the intricacies of purchasing land in this tropical haven. Whether you’re seeking a cozy home or a luxurious paradise, MCR has all of your Bahamas real estate needs covered.

If you’re considering investing in property in The Bahamas, let us be your real estate guide. 

Contact MCR Bahamas today

Central Bank of The Bahamas: Everything You Need To Know in 2024

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