For years, the island nation of Vanuatu has taken a firm stand against digital currencies, going against the wave of pro-Bitcoin sentiment among most smaller countries. However, as one local expert reveals, the country has given in to lobbying by local digital currency enthusiasts. Vanuatu now allows issuance, trading and custody of digital currencies.
Vanuatu is known for many things, one of which is as a scuba diving haven. However, one thing it’s not been known for is digital currencies adoption. The country has been very stringent against digital currencies, whether as a trading commodity or as a payment method, with any company registered there at risk of losing its license at the slightest mention of digital currencies.
However, as one expert now reveals, the country has changed its stance. Tal Itzhak Ron, the chair of legal firm Tal Ron, Drihem & Co. revealed in an interview that the government silently amended its laws to legalize digital currencies recently.
Speaking to Finance Magnates, he revealed that as of July 22, Vanuatu amended the Financial Dealers Licensing Act. The amendment included a provision that allows “the distribution, secondary trading, custodial storage and provision of investment advice or other services in relation to digital assets.”
For the Vanuatuan digital currency enthusiasts, the amendment has been a long time coming. Some like Ron have been working hard to see the day when everyone could own and trade digital currencies freely in the island nation. As he revealed to the publication, his firm has been lobbying massively for the change in regulations.
According to the expert, the legislation in Vanuatu is similar to one implemented in Gibraltar that further allows residents to issue their own digital currencies. This could open up a huge market for global companies which can now set up offices in Vanuatu and serve a worldwide audience.
While it had banned digital currencies, Vanuatu has been attracting a lot of digital currency-related people, sometimes for the wrong reasons. The country has become a hub for those seeking to avoid taxes after making millions in digital currencies, to the extent that there’s a company whose sole service is getting the Bitcoin millionaires Vanuatu passports.
And that’s not all. Digital currency scammers have also been taking advantage of the ease of acquiring Vanuatu passports. The two brothers who founded the $3.6 billion Africrypt scam in South Africa are reported to have purchased a Vanuatu passport.
Watch: CoinGeek Zurich panel, Digital Technology and the Future of Banking & Financial Services
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.