Rising sea levels that threaten to swamp many of the nation’s low lying outer islands, and a tourism-based economy that’s been whacked by Covid, have forced Palau to find new ways to thrive. The country’s U.S. educated president, Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., this month unveiled a blockchain-based digital residency, the first ever backed by a sovereign entity. Once approved by the Palau government, users receive a government-issued ID, both in the form of a physical card and digitally on the blockchain in the form of a non-fungible token.
In this segment, Whipps speaks with Roundtable’s Rob Nelson and Peter Green about the purpose and advantages of the digital residency.
“How do we come up with an ID that people can use to open accounts, to trade in the digital space, buy insurance, do everything, but that's a valid ID that is trusted? And our friends over at cryptic labs and at Stanford were able to say, this is the platform that we can use through the blockchain to verify the IDs, to make sure that we know our customer, we follow AML [anti-money laundering] practices and, and then have a system where every year that it’s reviewed, it's vetted so that we can keep the regulators understanding that the purpose of blockchain and crypto tech is not for money laundering and nefarious activities. It's really to provide freedom and allow people to trade and be able to be innovative and use the technology.”
“We want to be able to give everybody economic freedom and it doesn't matter where they are around the world. A lot of times people are afraid of crypto. I think it's because we fear we don't understand it. So we need to be able to help educate people.That's where the opportunity comes in, is for those people that have those fears, to provide the platform where they can access and have that freedom to, if they want it, be in crypto. Let them be in crypto, that shouldn't be the government deciding if they should be in or not. So we're saying, `This is the conduit for the world to do what they need to do.’ “