A passport is the most essential instrument for traveling the world. Whether traveling from Europe to Africa, or from North America to the Caribbean, a passport is a small and nimble tool needed to travel internationally. In recent years, passports have served a purpose beyond simply traveling from one nation to another. For those that are extraordinarily wealthy, an additional passport or two serves as a peace of mind in case of any chaos or revolution that could ensue in their home country.
For those with that level of wealth, the process to obtain an additional passport is not that complex. In the United States, individuals are allowed to apply for citizenship after they meet specific citizenship criteria. In other countries the rules are not the same. 10 countries allow outsiders to outright buy citizenship. In this sense, wealthy businessmen and businesswomen are able to buy citizenship for a percentage of a million dollars to achieve peace of mind. Even more so, eight out of ten of the countries which allow individuals to outright purchase citizenship are island nations which serve as Offshore Financial Centers. While some may argue that the motivation is actually tax avoidance, a second passport actually serves as the newest form of a status symbol as it demonstrates immense wealth.
Despite this practice being relatively new, it has already evolved in one major technological way. In the country of Antigua and Barbuda, one of the ten countries which allows individuals to buy citizenship, individuals can choose to either invest in the country with at least $400,000 or they can choose to contribute $100,000 to the country’s National Development Fund. In recent months, Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program Act was amended by the country’s Parliament to allow investments to be made through the transfer of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. The end goal of this adoption is to attract more people from around the globe to acquire citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, and as a result, benefit the economy of the small island nation.
In the words of the country’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, it expands their market because “we have a number of cryptocurrency investors who may be quite willing to take up our citizenship but only pay it in cryptocurrencies. If you do not accept the cryptocurrency then you would be literally locked out of that market.” In the same sense, individuals who make citizenship payments in cryptocurrencies will have their funds converted to US dollars on a daily basis in order to mitigate the loss in volatility that could arise.
Beyond allowing individuals to obtain citizenship via cryptocurrencies, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda has worked to create a crypto-friendly environment. For instance, last April a measure was passed allowing for government services to be paid for using Bitcoin. The nation understands that the use of Bitcoin allows for transactions to be traced. In the past, the nation has served as a haven for tax sheltering. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Everly Paul Chet Greene, argues that allowing citizens to pay for government services with further cryptocurrencies enhances the country’s reputation as a change leader. Greene goes on to say, “here in Antigua and Barbuda, we know we are always very much front and center of new developments; we are leaders, trendsetters in the Caribbean.”