2017 just keeps on giving in the amazing world of cryptocurrencies, with Vanuatu making headlines for its progressive policies this week.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
This week in the world of cryptocurrencies: the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has announced that it now officially accepts Bitcoin as payment for citizenship.
The country is likely to have already received its first request, as for years it has been selling citizenship to foreign nationals.
While this practice is hardly new, the country’s acceptance of payments made with digital currency (so far only Bitcoin is accepted) is quite a development.
In general, governments from around the world have been resistant to accepting these currencies, with many imposing regulations or outright forbidding the use of the currency.
With the exponential number of Bitcoin millionaires that have emerged in recent years, and with the currency giving returns of over 1,000% in the last 18 months alone, Vanuatu may not be the last country to take this position.
The Vanuatu Information Centre (VIC), responsible for managing the applications for “investment citizenship” programs, will receive the Bitcoin from a selected exchange and then trade it to dollars before sending the money to the government.
In a written statement, the Chairman of the VIC, Geoffrey Bond, noted that, “While attempts have been made in the past to effect payments for citizenship by investment programs via Bitcoin, these efforts never had the political stamp of approval, and were shut down as a consequence. However, in this case, the government of Vanuatu has explicitly expressed a desire to be at the forefront of adopting new technologies, officially encouraging the VIC to receive payments in Bitcoin.”
It is a measured but important first step.
The combination of the country’s lush tropical beaches, its 4th position in the world’s happiness index, and its stable political outlook will likely make it increasingly attractive for digital currency investors.
After all, a cryptocurrency-friendly government could offer very good future financial and fiscal conditions to those that made fortunes in the world of digital currencies.
Vanuatu already has a history of not charging income, inheritance, or corporate tax.
Many investors will be looking for friendly regulatory systems in which to convert their Bitcoin into common currency.
In this sense, a Bitcoin nation could perhaps be in the making in Vanuatu.
For those interested in seeking a new nationality in this island country, the cost of entry stands at around USD200,000.
In Bitcoin, however, it isn’t as clear, as the currency has climbed over USD1,000 in recent weeks to reach an all-time high of USD6,000.
Around Éƒ35 should do the trick. But with another Éƒ100, an investor could buy one of the small islands that compose this Pacific nation, although it is unclear if the real-estate sector is ready to take cryptos as currency.
The Vanuatu passport ranks in 34th place on the Global Passport Power Rank 2017.
An index of 199 passports from around the world according to their “power,” which is to say according to the number of countries that holders can enter visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival, Vanuatu’s position was earned as its passport is accepted in 125 nations.
This includes the Schengen area, Russia, and the UK.