The Marshall Islands, an island country and a US associated state, is planning to issue its own government-backed cryptocurrency, the Marshallese sovereign (SOV).
The SOV will be introduced through a token pre-sale, according to an announcement made at CoinDesk’s Invest: Asia event, held on September 11, 2019.
Marshall Islands’ Minister In-Assistance to the President and Environment, David Paul noted that the token sale, referred to as the Timed Release Monetary Issuance (TRMI), will be open to anyone, regardless of their physical location.
Interested parties can register for the pre-sale on the SOV’s official Development Foundation website. During the pre-sale, users will be able to purchase TRMI units, which can later be exchanged for SOV units. At present, the island’s crypto is “a work in progress.”
Paul said it would take approximately 18 to 24 months before the SOV is launched.
However, he said it’s possible that the blockchain-based digital currency could be “well-vetted enough right before the TRMI that we [might only] need … six months if all the preparation is done beforehand.”
The pre-sale is being conducted to get an idea about the overall market interest in the SOV and the levels of liquidity currently available, according to Paul.
“TRMI is really another way of doing an [initial coin offering (ICO)] but in a more responsible and methodical manner. That’s really the TRMI. You have to look at how to establish liquidity. When you do TRMI, you’re looking at the appetite for the product and how it’s going to [behave] in the markets.”
The minister added:
“It’s really the reputation and integrity of a country on the line. We’ve got one shot at this.”
Paul and his team members at the SOV Development Foundation are also working on addressing the appropriate regulatory requirements for the upcoming cryptocurrency.
In September 2018, the International Monetary Fund had cautioned against issuing a national digital currency, noting that using the crypto as legal tender in the island nation might “increase macroeconomic and financial integrity risks.”
The US Treasury Department had also warned that launching a government-issued cryptocurrency might pose economic risks.
Paul noted that it’s a lot more challenging for a country to develop a cryptocurrency than a private company.
“A nation cannot rebrand [like a company can]. That’s why we have to do this in such a way that’s different. It has to be transparent. It has to be inclusive. We need to make sure that we work with regulators to ensure that once we launch, they don’t go back and say, ‘Oh, you haven’t done this. You should have done that.’”