BY BERNADETTE H. CARREON
Palau’s House of Delegates introduced a digital residency bill that will allow foreign investors to start businesses from afar and also open the market to the use of cryptocurrency.
In his letter to the members of the Olbiil Era Kelulau, President Surangel Whipps Jr. said the bill “is a way for businesses to use Palau’s physical location, to transact business digitally.”
Under the proposed bill, Palau is offering a government-issued digital residency to non-resident citizens without having to be physically present here.
“Digital residency will not give residency or citizenship to any individual nor will it give businesses the right to set up shop in Palau,” said Whipps.
While Palau won’t be the first country to offer digital residency, Whipps said it will have an edge over other countries because of its proximity to the Asian market and attract non-citizens to get it. He also said the bill will enable a diversification of economy and a partnership with proven private entry to manage the country’s digital platforms.
“Palau does not currently have the capacity to start a technologically complex platform for digital residency, but the attached bill sets out a mechanism for swift action through a public-private partnership,” he said.
The new legislation will make sure that Palau will comply with all anti-money laundering protocols and weed out “unscrupulous users.”
The bill comes at the heel of Palau and US-based Ripple, a blockchain and crypto solutions company.
In a joint press release last week the partnership will explore cross-border payments and the country’s first national digital currency and its use cases with the XRP Ledger.
Ripple said that, when approved, they could see the implementation of the world’s first government-backed national stable coin in the first half of 2022 for which Ripple would provide Palau with technical, business, design and policy support.
“As part of our commitment to lead in financial innovation and technologies, we are delighted to partner with Ripple,” said Whipps. “The first phase of the partnership will focus on a cross-border payments strategy and exploring options to create a national digital currency, providing the citizens of Palau with greater financial access.” mbj