Earlier this week, Vanuatu became the first sovereign nation to accept bitcoins in return for granting citizenship through its DSP Citizenship Program.
The Chairman of the Vanuatu Information Center (VIC) – which oversees Vanuatu citizenship applications - Geoffrey Bond, had sent an official request earlier this month seeking permission to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. Andrew Solomon Napuat MP, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, affirmed the decision last week.
In a statement to news media, Bond stated that “While attempts have been made in the past to effect payments for citizenship by investment programs via Bitcoin, these efforts never had government 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.”
The Chairman added that an unnamed Australian bitcoin exchange, which follows Australian KYC and AML regulations, would handle the bitcoin transaction at the time of payment, which occurs at the end of the application process.
— James Harris, Managing Director, Vanuatu Information Center
The Managing Director of the VIC, James Harris, explained that there was initially some concern and suspicion about cryptocurrencies due to bitcoin’s reputed use in black markets and other undesirable activities. “In fact, the opposite is true,” he stated, “as crypto-currency exists in a fully traceable ledger, where the entire history of its creation and trading is visible.” Harris added that the use of bitcoin would greatly improve the flexibility of international financial transactions.
Vanuatu has a population of about 286,000 residents, and is composed of 82 relatively small islands in the south Pacific, nestled between Australia and Fiji. The 810-mile (1,300 kilometer) archipelago has 65 inhabited i...