The Vanuatu Information Centre (VIC) has announced that applicants to Vanuatu’s citizenship program can now make payments in Bitcoin. This marks the first time that a citizenship by investment program has obtained official endorsement to take payments in a cryptocurrency.
With the price of Bitcoin now rebounding to the $4600 level, and the amount needed to join the program at $200,000, this means that you only need about 44 BTC to get yourself a Vanuatu citizenship. While this could be an interesting proposal for any ‘Bitcoin Whale’ looking to offshore to a welcoming nation, it will also be especially attractive to those from China, Russia and other restrictive areas of the world.
The government of Vanuatu has confirmed in an official letter addressed to Geoffrey Bond, Chairman of the VIC, the entity that handles all applications to the Vanuatu Citizenship Program, that the it supports the VIC’s taking payment in Bitcoin.
“This is a significant step forward in our efforts, working with the Government of Vanuatu to propel the Vanuatu DSP to the forefront of CIPs globally”, said James Harris, Managing Director of the Vanuatu Information Centre Network. “There remains some suspicion surrounding the use of cryptocurrency in financial transactions, and some fears that it can be related to undesirable activities. In fact, the opposite is true, as cryptocurrency exists in a fully traceable ledger where the entire history of its creation and trading is visible. 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,” he added.
Chairman of the VIC, Geoffrey Bond, commented: “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.” He added, “In addition to the normal due diligence probity checks that are required to obtain Vanuatu Citizenship, all Bitcoin transactions will be run through our partner’s Australian Exchange and meet with the normal compliance requirements imposed by the Australian Financial Regulator.”
“I’m convinced Vanuatu’s bold move will give them a considerable competitive advantage in the citizenship market,” said Christian Nesheim, an investment migration specialist who advised the VIC and the Vanuatu government on Bitcoin adoption during their visit to Bangkok last week. “Many early investors in Bitcoin would like to realize some of their earnings without incurring large capital gains taxes. Ideally, then, they would convert their cryptocurrency into tangible assets in a low-tax jurisdiction. So far, the asset classes available to this type of investor have been limited, but we are now seeing an increasing number of crypto-to-real-assets type investments on offer. As Vanuatu will now be the only country to offer citizenship for Bitcoins, I think the program will see a surge in interest more or less immediately.”
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