By CCN.com: An official announcement from the British Virgin Islands says that the island protectorate has entered a partnership with a blockchain company. The company, LifeLabs, makes a wallet and has a token called LIFE on the Ethereum blockchain. The wallet supports Ethereum, Bitcoin, and the firm’s own crypto tokens.
The partnership mainly regards the facilitation of emergency funding for the British Virgin Islands as well as payments between islands. Andrew A. Fahie, Premier and Minister of Finance for the British Virgin Islands, says:
“It is of utmost importance that our citizens receive immediate and proportional response in the midst of emergencies. LIFElabs’ innovative financial technology comes at a pivotal time for our people and our economy, while the memory of recent natural disasters remains fresh in our minds and hearts, and the pressure for increased economic efficiency keeps mounting. It is with high expectations that we enter into this unprecedented partnership, together, building a better BVI for the future.”
The British Virgin Islands is home to thousands of global corporations, which has in the past led to accusations that it is a haven for money launderers. The country has recently made changes to its reporting and registration requirements, which, for one thing, led to a restructuring of Telegram’s corporate interests.
The idea behind the partnership is that when disaster happens, and traditional means are disrupted, British Virgin Islanders will be able to use LIFEWallet to receive government assistance. The government will also utilize blockchain technology in such an event.
“The LIFElabs.io implementation for the BVI will allow island residents to download the LIFEwallet® app on either Apple iOS or Google Android mobile devices, accessing an account that can have funds deposited into it whenever a disaster strikes. For users who do not currently have smart mobile devices LIFE will provision for digital currencies to be sent and received via SMS. The wallet app can also be used for peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions, or in daily commerce, purchasing essential goods and services from local businesses. LIFElabs.io pioneering blockchain technology is a major advancement over traditional banking, where ‘bricks and mortar’ locations can be damaged or destroyed, and thereby preventing access to much needed funds during an emergency or humanitarian crisis.”
The partnership doesn’t go much beyond that. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement that local merchants start accepting cryptocurrencies, or anything of that nature, but the announcement is unique in terms of government adoption of cryptocurrency.
Governments have been slow to accept and embrace cryptocurrencies, with Ohio being the first to allow people to pay certain taxes in Bitcoin. Such an initiative has long been sought-after by certain Bitcoin enthusiasts, who have pushed for New Hampshire to enable similar rules for years.
Hopefully, disaster will not have to strike the British Virgin Islands for them to expand their partnership. The announcement also mentions that Fahie will be initiating blockchain conferences and the like.
The country could quickly become a blockchain hub on this side of the Atlantic, with tiny countries like Malta and Estonia playing host to significant blockchain companies on the other side.