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Tiny Pacific Nation Makes a Go of Its Own Digital Currency

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(Bloomberg) -- An isolated island nation in the Pacific Ocean with a population of about 75,000 continues to break ground in the cryptocurrency space.

The Marshall Islands is proceeding with the creation of a blockchain-based national currency, the Marshallese sovereign or SOV, the country said in a statement. David Paul, the environment minister and minister-in-assistance to the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, spoke about the venture at a conference in Singapore on Wednesday.

"With the blockchain technology in place, we thought this was an opportune time to establish our own legal tender" and lessen the nation's dependence on the dollar, Paul said in an interview from the sidelines of the conference. "As a small country it's going to be easier and faster for us to make decisions and respond to the market" as a digital coin is introduced.

Read more about why this Pacific Island nation is trying to start a cryptocurrency.

The country doesn't have a starting date set yet, as officials still need to resolve compliance and regulatory issues, and work with entities like the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund, Paul said. In a February 2018 interview, he had told Bloomberg News plans were to issue the coin later that year.

The SOV has built-in compliance features and its supply will grow at a fixed rate of 4% a year, according to the statement, which added that only verified users will be able to transact in SOV. Newly created SOV will be sent automatically to eligible holders, including all Marshallese citizens, who will also receive an equal split of 10% of the initial currency supply, the statement said. The SOV won't be one-to-one to the greenback -- it will establish its own liquidity and be market-based, Paul said in the interview.

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