The island country of Vanuatu is now allowing foreigners to participate in their buyable citizenship program using Bitcoin. The South Pacific nation is now the first country in the world to accept cryptocurrency in a citizenship by investment program (CIP).
Paradise in the South Pacific
Vanuatu sits between Fiji and Australia, and boasts about 80 different islands. The isolated country has already had an economic citizenship program in place. Foreigners can fork over $200,000 USD to score a Vanuatu passport. Those who participate in the program can become a citizen in just 45 days’ time.
The organization that deals with all applications for the program is called the Vanuatu Information Centre (VIC). Last week, they announced that they were officially incorporating Bitcoin into the citizenship program. The country’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Hon Andrew Solomon Napuat MP, confirmed the move in a letter to VIC’s chairman dated September 29th.
At current market rates, citizenship in Vanuatu would cost about 43.64 bitcoin.
According to VIC’s Managing Director, James Harris, the bitcoin decision is a major step forward in propelling Vanuatu to the forefront of CIPs. He noted that there are still lingering suspicions around the use of digital currency. Fears remain that “undesirable activities” are taking place in the Bitcoin world, he says.
“In fact, the opposite is true, as crypto-currency exists in a fully traceable ledger where the entire history of its creation and trading is visible,” Harris said. “Therefore, our pioneering of the use of Bitcoin payment is a further strengthening of AML processes, and at the same time provides enormous flexibility in a world where international financial transactions have become ever more difficult.”
Staying at the forefront of modern payment technologies
According to the Chairman of VIC, Geoffrey Bond, there have already been attempts in the past begin accepting Bitcoin. Those efforts, however, weren’t able to garner enough political support – and they were halted as a result.
It seems like Vanuatu’s government has changed its tune.
As for the “undesirable activities” concern, Vanuatu has plans for that as well. On top of the standard due diligence probity checks involved with becoming a Vanuatu citizen, the government’s Australian Exchange partner will check all Bitcoin purchases. All transactions will have to meet regular compliance requirements that the Australian Financial Regulator imposes.
Press Release, Investment Migration Insider