Palau is hoping its new partnership with the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange company Binance will create the “Palauan Dream” to help curb the brain drain among its young people.
Binance founder and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao was in Palau last week at the launch of the country’s Digital Residency Program NFTs, and briefed President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. and his Cabinet members on the role Binance will play, not only in Palau’s Digital Residency Program, but also, he says, in the general development of its economy.
“I think what we’re all about is freedom. Freedom of letting people invest, trade, do what they need to do to enjoy life to its fullest. And we started the program with high aspirations. We say there’s 7 billion people in the world, so why not 7 billion residents for Palau,” President Whipps Jr. told Zhao and his team during a news conference.
“We should always dream, and one of the things I always share with people is: we want to create opportunities for our young people. And opportunities require new ideas, new innovation and harnessing those technologies and innovation to create opportunities for our people. So, one of our challenges is we have so many young people in Palau move to the United States in search of the American dream. We want to create the Palauan Dream, where we can encourage our young people to come back in. Having you here CZ and Binance, opens that door of opportunity to develop new industries, new businesses here that hopefully can bring our young people back to Palau and be part of the new technology and innovation that’s out there. So, we’re excited to partner and see how we can develop the right ecosystem and the right environment – regulatory and laws put in place that can take us to the next phase of development of this new industry for Palau.”
Last December, Palau enacted relevant legislation for its Digital Residency Program and in January this year, jointly launched it with blockchain development firm Cryptic Labs, who helped with initial groundwork.
Known as Root Name System (RNS), the sovereign-backed digital residency program is being marketed as a first of its kind in the world and open to anyone anywhere for a modest US$248 per person.
According to its developers, once approved, users receive a government-issued ID, both in the form of a physical card and digitally on the blockchain in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT). As an NFT, the RNS ID forms the foundation for legal identity and verification on chain and because it is state-issued, the ID is valid for any identification requirement, such as KYC (Know Your Customer).
The RNS platform also gives users access to future services, including address and shipping services, and digital signature verification and the system also promises users privacy and security using end-to-end encryption so they control their information and identity exposure.
Palau however is not limiting itself to RNS alone and its ambition to position the program as a “a gateway to the borderless financial world” will be followed by more digital financial services, with Binance playing a very active role in both technology and regulatory aspects, where it has promised to contribute its wealth of experience.
“We’re honoured to be invited to participate in the future growth of Palau and I believe Palau historically has been relying very heavily on tourism. We would like to contribute in addition to that to see how we can help Palau grow other industries that do not limit itself to natural resources. And target a global audience using new technologies. So I believe the digital residency program is a very innovative one, is a very symbolic and meaningful one,” said Zhao.
“We will continue to increase our presence here locally in Palau. We’ve already expressed our interest in investing in industries outside of crypto – traditional financial services including payment services, digital banks, etc. Even in the tourism industry – we have invested previously in travelling apps such as travella and we would like to see how we can bring those synergies here. And on the tourism side, I think Metaverse is a very good way to advertise in the future. It’s still new and we would like to see how we can bring those partnerships here. We don’t develop Metaverse ourselves but we have many partners in the ecosystem and we would love to bring them here and have more in depth discussions about how to do that,” he said.
He also announced a Binance Scholarship program for students and residents as well as bringing to Palau the services of its charity arm.