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Antigua CIP to start accepting Bitcoin

Updated: Aug 9, 2018

Author: Christopher Buckley

Antigua and Barbuda has become just the second country to accept Bitcoin, along with several other crypto and regular currencies (including euro) as tender for its Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP). Vanuatu recently became the first country to announce that it would accept Bitcoin as a payment method for its Development Support Programme (DSP).

However, there is a key difference between these two programmes. In Vanuatu, only agents can be paid in Bitcoin, after which they Bitcoin must be converted to US Dollars before being transferred to the Government. In Antigua, Bitcoin payments can be made directly to the government.

The announcement was made earlier this week following a parliamentary meeting. While acknowledging the need to be 'careful', Prime Minister Gaston Browne also noted that this decision was made because it 'expands [the] market because we have a number of cryptocurrency investors who may be quite willing to take up our citizenship but would only pay in cryptocurrencies.'

It is hoped that this move could potentially open the country up to the relatively untapped market of crypto-millionaires seeking alternative citizenship, with Browne noting that “If you do not accept the cryptocurrency then you would be literally locked out of that market.”

To reduce the risk of accepting Bitcoin payments as tender, the cryptocurrencies will be transferred to US Dollars on a daily basis in order to “ensure that we don’t have any exposure in cryptocurrencies.”

A final important point to note is that the country recently announced an update permitting the Citizenship by Investment Unit to open offshore bank accounts to receive payments for the country’s CIP. This decision was made in an attempt to assuage the concerns of local banks that they may lose their relationships with US banks. As Browne notes: 'a number of agents have been de-banked by various banks within the domestic banking space because they are saying that their correspondent banks within the US are saying that if they were to process CIP transactions, that they would withdraw their correspondent banking.'

Click here to learn more about the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme:

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