Palestinian Govt Plans to Launch ‘Bitcoin-Style’ Digital Currency: Report

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May 15, 2017 2:42 PM UTC

The head of the Palestine Monetary Authority, the emerging central bank of Palestine, has revealed plans toward launching Palestine’s own digital currency.

According to a Reuters report, Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) chief Azzam Shawwa has pointed toward a ‘digital-only currency’ as a ‘bitcoin-style solution’ for the territory of Palestine. As things stand, Palestinians have no official currency to call their own and use the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Israeli shekel and the Jordanian dinar as unofficial currencies in their daily lives.

The PMA, currently an independent public institution, outlines its vision ‘to be a full-fledged and modern central bank for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state,’ on its website.

As such, the de facto central bank does not have the means to issue its own currency as it is bound by the 1994 Paris Protocol agreement [PDF], which recommends the use of the Israeli shekel.

Adopting its own digital-only currency will effectively safeguard it from Israel’s interference, Shawwa revealed.

“If we print currency, to get it into the country, you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle,” Shawwa told Reuters. “So that’s why we don’t want to go into it.”

Notably, he added:

That [a digital currency] is something we would like to see. It will be called a Palestinian pound.

Shawwa also underlined the need for commodities to function as the ‘backbone of the currency’, beyond its issuance, pointing to “reserves, gold, oil.”

Plans toward a digital currency, the official revealed, is a part of the PMA’s larger five-year strategy to be published before the end of 2017.

The issuance of a digital-only currency will come as a respite for users in Palestinian territories, who have seen a cold shoulder by the likes of PayPal.

While there are is no official timeline to launch the digital currency, the defacto central bank’s head pointed to such a move ‘within five years’, according to the report. Any official roadmap toward the issuance of a digital currency could be revealed by the end of the year’s five-year strategy. As such, the authority is in the process of moving into a purpose-built central bank building in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Featured image of Ramallah from Shutterstock.

Last modified: May 21, 2020 9:49 AM UTC

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Samburaj Das @sambdas

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