A Swiss ‘smart card’ wallet manufacturer, Tangem will allegedly issue physical banknotes for the Sovereign (SOV), the state digital currency of the Marshall Islands, as per an announcement on Jan. 28.
As per the announcement, physical representations of the virtual currency will supposedly make certain that the citizens have fair and equal access to their digital currency, whether or not they have access to an internet connection. The firm mentions that a physical SOV will be a “controllable mechanism” for issuing the currency by the Marshallese government.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands first announced, in February 2018, that it would release its own cryptocurrency complete with an ICO and free trading. Interestingly, two government officials mentioned that once issued, the Sovereign will circulate together with the nation’s other official currency, the United States dollar.
Notably, the proposal of issuing a national cryptocurrency became a controversial topic within the country and with international organizations like IMF. In August 2018, the IMF urged the Marshallese government to re-evaluate the plan of issuing the Sovereign, saying that it may perhaps pose risks to the country’s financial integrity and relationships with foreign banks.
It is to be noted that the support of Marshallese President Hilda Heine for the Sovereign led to a vote of no confidence in the country’s parliament, the Nitijela. While the parliament had originally backed the formation of a national digital currency, critics of the president stated that the suggested plan for a state-backed virtual currency might damage the country’s reputation.
Heine, by a whisker, survived the vote of no confidence, in November 2018, with the Nitijela split 16-16. The president purportedly told the parliament that the effort to remove her from power was a “referendum about our own politics.” She also hailed plans for the Sovereign as a historic instant for our people.