Critics warn that Palau’s digital residency program will leave the nation at the mercy of scammers and corruption. But President Surangel Whipps says the program will have the capacity for internationally recognized standards of identity verification. This will ensure that the West Pacific island upholds the rule of law and its reputational integrity.
The digital residency program in collaboration with Cryptics Lab was opened to anyone with $248 to spare. Residents would receive an NFT ID card and entry to a digital-first economy, with a renewal of $100 per year. At launch, the scheme had a waitlist of 60,000.
Peter Howson, an expert on cryptocurrency at the University of Northumbria, highlighted that crypto developers are rarely pulled to struggling communities because they want to fix things. Crypto developers are usually looking for new punters and performing real-world tests.
Johnson Toribiong, the former president, believes there should be due diligence. He explained there could be risks but then there are also shady people. Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, was the first resident to sign up for the program. He said it is the beginning of something extraordinary. The businessman believes it will spread across the world and is innovative as the government.
Palau’s Ministry of Finance, on Wednesday, revealed that the Digital Residency Office has collected $71,000 from over 700 people. About 40% of the applicants are from the United States, 30% from Europe, and 30% from Asia – including China.
The President explained the Digital Residency offers a potential diversification of Palau’s economy. He highlighted that this is urgently needed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the island’s tourism industry.