The legislature of the Republic of the Marshall Islands passed a bill to launch its own national cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) potentially by the end of this year.
Located between Hawaii and Australia, the nation of 1,100 islands and a population of 53,000 will launch its own legal tender cryptocurrency, which will be called ‘Sovereign’ (SOV). The country’s legislature passed the Declaration and Issuance of the Sovereign Currency Act 2018 on February 26th, officially bringing the project to life.
Israeli startup Neema, a company that specializes in facilitating international money transfers via blockchain technology, has been chosen to develop much of the technology behind the planned SOV issuance. Unlike Bitcoin and other anonymous cryptocurrencies, SOV will use the Yokwe public protocol, which is designed to verify users and transactions by linking SOV wallets to people verified by the government.
Units of SOV are expected to be distributed by year end, with every Marshall Islands resident set to receive a free allocation. The government has also said that exchanges will be able to apply to freely trade SOV.
Currently, the Marshall Islands uses the US dollar as the official currency and receives $30 million from the US yearly in compensation for atomic weapons tests done on its territory shortly after WWII. Those atomic reparation payments are coming to an end soon and the ICO is viewed by the government as a way to bridge the coming budget gap.
Hilda Heine, president of the tiny Pacific island nation, referred to the planned SOV ICO as “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."
Apart from financing the underlying technology of the SOV and offsetting gaps in the budget, some of the funds raised in the ICO will reportedly be used to support green technology initiatives as well as help citizens still suffering from exposure to nuclear radiation from American tests.
The Marshall Islands have become the second nation to officially announce a national cryptocurrency project. Venezuela launched the pre-sale of their Petro token on February 20, a cryptocurrency project that the South American country hopes to use to evade Western sanctions and help get their hyperinflation problem under control.
Iran, Turkey, and Russia have expressed interest in launching national cryptocurrency projects of their own.