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Marshall Islands Plans For National Cryptocurrency

The Marshall Islands is the latest country looking to issue its very own cryptocurrency. Called “the sovereign” (SOV), the cryptocurrency will circulate as legal tender alongside the USD and will be distributed to the public via an “initial currency offering,” the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Dr. Hilda C. Heine, announced today.

“This is a historic moment for our people, finally issuing and using our own currency, alongside the USD. It is another step of manifesting our national liberty,” said RMI President Heine.

The sovereign nation enacted the Sovereign Currency Act February 26 that mandates the legal tender cryptocurrency. Every resident of the Marshall Islands will receive a free allocation of the currency. The country will also allow global investors to participate in SOV via the initial currency offering.

“Allocating SOV units directly to the citizens will circulate the currency and distribute wealth efficiently to our people,” said President Heine. “In addition, the RMI will invest the revenues to support its climate change efforts, green energy, healthcare for those still affected by the US nuclear tests, and education.”

Minister in Assistance to the President David Paul said 10% of the proceeds from the initial currency offering will be directed towards a Green Climate Fund.

“The Marshall Islands is the first nation to adopt a transparent crypto monetary system, and we are proud of it. We are making our economy more resilient and payments more transparent,” said Paul.

SOV will be based on the “Yokwe framework” that requires users to identify vis-a-vis the blockchain, addressing KYC/AML requirements. The framework offers “all the benefits of Bitcoin minus the anonymity,” said Paul.

Every SOV wallet will be associated to a real person via verified government ID and fingerprint. “Yokwe” will encrypt the user’s identity on a blockchain and only they will be able to reveal it.

The government said the SOV was part of a broader “E-Conomy” vision which intends to “use blockchain intensively,” with a cryptocurrency and biometric IDs securely recorded on a blockchain.

“This will permit the registration of licenses and ownership, as well as easier and more frequent voting,” it said.

Israeli startup Neema was chosen to lead the issuance of the SOV. A presale is set to begin soon and will allow the RMI to raise initial prospects prior to the initial currency offering later this year.

The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Venezuela’s oil-backed “petro” cryptocurrency, which reportedly raised US$735 million in the first day of the presale.

Last week, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi hinted in an announcement on Twitter that a state-backed cryptocurrency may be launched in the country. One of the country’s banks is reportedly working on the project.

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