PM: Crypto-Payments Will be “Very Important” for Overcoming Banking Issues in Caribbean



Cryptocurrency will be “very important” for overcoming banking issues, lack of progress on harmonization may be due to inertia, and new CIP competition from Europe is ultimately a good thing, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda told Investment Migration Insider in Davos.

De-risking a “significant threat”

Elaborating on his continued chastisement of the US, EU, and OECD, Browne expressed frustration at the rules policy-makers in developed countries had crafted, noting that they put countries like his own “at a major disadvantage”.

“Even though we’re small island states, our people have a right to live, and our people also have a right to enjoy a good standard of living. And some of the rules that have been introduced in the global space put small island states at a major disadvantage. If we are unable to make payments, or even to receive payments, then clearly our country will be plunged into poverty.”

“De-risking, for example, is perhaps one of the most significant threats facing small island states in the Caribbean.”

Read also: Back With a Vengeance: Antigua CIP Applications More Than Double in 2018

Among the proposed solutions to the de-risking/correspondent banking issues have been the expanded use of alternative methods of payment. Last summer, the Antiguan Parliament introduced legislation to pave the way for cryptocurrency payments under the country’s CIP. Interest in that payment mechanism, said Browne, had been underwhelming.

“It’s been very low so far. I think we have not been successful in marketing the program as one that takes cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. But I think that, as more and more investors recognize that we accept cryptocurrencies, the demand will increase. But we also intend to broaden that payment mechanism to accept payments in RMB as well. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for the investor to make a payment and to work around the issues associated with correspondent banking.”

Prime Minister Browne discussing the key role cryptocurrency could have for his country’s CIP during a panel in Davos.

Responding to a question about what role he thought cryptocurrency could play in helping the region overcome its correspondent banking woes, the PM said it would be “very important”.

“It provides an alternative payment mechanism, it’s cheaper, it’s easier to move and there’s traceability as well,” said PM Browne, who was careful to point out that he also knew the compliance risks associated with the use of cryptocurrency, risks he explained the government had taken into account when drafting the legislation.

“[Accepting payments in cryptocurrencies] also creates an additional market for the CIP; those who operate with cryptocurrencies, they too have the opportunity to invest in our CIP.”

Read also: PM: Antigua Will Amend Laws to “Keep Out of the Crosshairs of the OECD”

Slow progress on CIP harmonization due to “inertia”

Questioned as to what’s holding up work on Caribbean leaders’ stated goal of deeper integration on due diligence and processing among the region’s CIPs, the Prime Minister re-affirmed his support for the notion.

“I’ve been an ardent proponent for harmonization, especially for the due diligence process. So, I remain hopeful that, very soon, we shall be able to proceed. In fact, I am of the view that [CIP harmonization] should not exclusively be enshrined in policy, but in legislation, to avoid any potential policy abuse,” said Browne.

Pressed about what’s causing the delay in the harmonization process, considering the broad acknowledgement of the need for such among Caribbean leaders, Browne indicated the work on integration had perhaps not received the degree of prioritization it warrants.

“Maybe inertia, to some extent,” commented Browne on what could be the cause of the sluggish progress. “Maybe we need one or two of us to really drive the process. Even though we have spoken about the need for harmonization, the follow-up has been weak.

Welcoming competition from new European CIPs

Asked to share his view of the implications of having new programs in Europe – chiefly Montenegro and Moldova, both of which enter the market at a price point similar to that of Caribbean programs – Browne pointed out that further competition would ultimately be beneficial, both for his own program and for the industry as a whole.

“Well, I think competition is good. Ultimately, it just means we’ll have to improve our product offering. And I believe it will help broaden the global CIP space and give further legitimacy to CIPs. If you only have a handful of countries doing citizenship by investment, then the naysayers will continue to look at these programs as programs for crooks, and their arguments will prevail,” said the PM, explaining that the more jurisdictions that open CIPs, the more accepted the industry would become.

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  1. I asked the CEO of Antigua’s CIP unit recently in late Jan. 2019 if they accepted cryptocurrency as a payment for CIP, and she said, “No, we do not”. So PM Browne, if you are surprised as to why people have not been paying for Antigua CIP using cryptocurrency, there is your answer. Just look at the Antigua CIP website, it doesn’t even mention cryptocurrency.

    I agree with all of PM Browne’s points. The super majority of CIP citizens are truly great people, most of them wealthy and educated – so I think Antiguans should welcome them with open arms, because these are the kind of new citizens we need for our country. Actually, many countries would love to have these people as their citizens and we should consider ourselves lucky if they choose us.

    I also agree with PM Browne about the need for Antigua to start becoming a RMB payment economy. China and Asia are the future for the 21st century and Antigua has a unique opportunity to position itself to welcome investments, tourism and trade with Asia. The US, EU and Canada are evil countries that seek to push Antigua down.

    Lastly, in order for Antigua’s CIP to competitive, it just provide for the automatic hereditary right of citizenship to newborn children of CIP citizens. Currently, if you are an Antigua CIP citizen and have a new baby, your new baby is not a Antigua citizen.

    • Have the new baby when? Clearly you mean before they obtain citizenship. If it happens after they has passed the 5 year period of citizenship, there is no cost and is basically similar to the process for persons who garnered citizenship via all other methods. The issue of it happening during the first five years, as I recall from a statement by the former CEO, in 2016, has yet to be decided. Keep in mind there is a conditional 5 year period where certain things need to happen

  2. If I laugh I will cry, “these are the citizens we need.” Puppet Master when this cryptocurrency and your new citizens backfire on this country. I pray to JAH you are still in office. The new citizens are well educated how do you know this, part of the CIU requirement is to present your CV or it’s just bring your money and come? Criminals have money too. This cryptocurrency how will the CIU account and track this currency? Oh sorry I forgot the new building out at Woods will be the crypto headquarters. Puppet Master you really taking Antigua and Barbuda people for a ride to hell. Just a reminder “THE DARKNET”

    Please someone share this link with the Puppet Master from St. John’s City West, now station on Queen Elizabeth Highway. You will be saving your country from educated criminals with our CIP passport.
    Oh let me not forget the uneducated Caricom nationals according to this article the CIP citizens worth more than you all, they will not talk HAM & TURKEY for a vote.

    • Hope you are not the same “Knight” making a rear-end out of yourself on Observer radio. The one who said Antigua passport is of no value to you because you have an American passport.

    • Brethen go and take a class to know what you speak of. Should we stop accepting cash simply because it has more money laundering risks? Fact is crytocurrency has less risk in terms of money laundering than cash. The key is similar to cash, you would need to setup proper anti ml procedures. There are also some crypto’s which like cash, are backed by a government (eg EMcash in Dubai see, Sweden is currently working on it)

  3. Wow finally somebody talking about the importance of cryptocurrency. Hopefully in the future we can give the international banks the boot.

  4. Gentlemen, cryptocurrency will never be the form of currency used by a potential CIP citizen. The first question you need to ask is why is this individual attempting to gain Antiguan Citizenship? Is it becausr he went on vacation in Antigua one time and really liked the place? No, let’s cut the act right there and be honest for a second. I worked in the international banking business and what I learned is that most of these people have too much CASH. Cash and other assets that are being taxed more than they want! So, they are going to spend this free cash flow to get what they need, which is a tax haven. Cryptocurrency is too unstable for this high level individual to invest his fortune. You need to understand that money or currency is NOT EVEN REAL. Its a made up thing we have where paper is assigned a value and it fills the gap in trade where you can barter indirectly. The entire world banking system is a fraud which is why there are all these adjusmtents and made up rules to keep things going. The truth of money is that it is only valuable if we all believe the lie. Thats the only way you can convince a baker to give you a loaf of bread for the piece of tree bark (paper) that you are stretching to give them.

  5. The Crypto currency idea is one of the best financial solution in this current generation, the investment prospects is quite encouraging a decision I am always proud of, thanks to the awesome financial expert that helped me in trading ( stocksandcryptotrade@gmail •com ) . I started just January this year with just about 1500(USD) today I have about 1.3 worth of BTC thats over 5000(USD). The world can only get better, you can mail him too if you want to and thank me later.

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