Antigua-Barbuda economic citizenship programme now accepts cryptocurrencies

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST JOHN’S, Antigua — On Monday, the parliament of Antigua and Barbuda amended by resolution without debate the Citizenship by Investment Programme Act to allow payments to be made in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The resolution also allows payments to be made in Euros and currencies other than US dollars.

“So not only are we providing the capacity for payment in Euros, but we are also providing for payments using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.

He acknowledged that, with cryptocurrencies, “we know we have to be careful.”

But the prime minister said the amendment was necessary because “moving money is important and if you cannot move money you cannot receive it.”

“So it is quintessential that we have a payment mechanism that could facilitate payments in cryptocurrencies,” he said.

Not allowing that method of payment, Browne argued, could exclude people from the programme who want to pay using this method.

“And the truth is too, it expands your 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,” he told parliament.

“If you do not accept the cryptocurrency then you would be literally locked out of that market,” he added.

Browne noted that payments in cryptocurrencies would be converted to US dollars daily “to ensure that we don’t have any exposure in cryptocurrencies.”

A related amendment to the CIP regulations will allow the Citizenship by Investment Unit to open offshore accounts for receiving payments.

Browne said this amendment is also necessary as a response to derisking and fears that local banks may lose their relationships.

“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.

“What we are trying to do is to give them the option of establishing accounts with offshore banks including Global Bank and Commerce and others, so they have the option of having a bank that is willing to accommodate their transactions,” he explained.

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