Recently, Fiji, located south of the Pacific Ocean, elected a new prime minister. Interestingly, the newly-elected prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, happens to be pro-Bitcoin.
The news of the newly elected leader being a Bitcoin advocate came from the tweet of Lord Fusitu’a, a Tongan noble and a former member of the Tongan parliament. Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 South Pacific islands and is a neighbor to Fiji.
Lord Fusitu’a tweet claims that he was the one who thoroughly explained Rabuka about Bitcoin legal tender. He said that he explained “how Fiji can do Bitcoin legal tender like Tongs,” and then there would be two “Legal Tender Bills for the Pacific” in the coming year. In his tweet, he stated:
“The new PM is definitely pro-Bitcoin. He asked to meet with me, which we have done via zooms since last year, to walk him through, step by step, how he could adopt bitcoin legal tender.”
Sources reveal Tonga’s timeline for introducing Bitcoin as a legal tender is already public and is expected to pass as early as February 2023. While both nations are similar on the grounds of economic and developmental challenges, given their local history but the population of Fiji is nearly nine times that of Tonga.
However, some see Bitcoin in a positive light to improve financial inclusion in Fiji, given the scenario of the country. Fiji comprises over 330 islands and is classified as a middle-income country, but it faces major development challenges, like high poverty, limited financial inclusion, and energy dependence on fossil fuels.
As per the reports of the World Bank, the share of revenue from money transfers stands at more than 11% of Fiji’s GDP. While the country’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy cites strong growth in financial inclusion, ground reality says that not even half of the female population has access to a bank account.
Hence, in such a case, the world’s largest cryptocurrency could be a useful means to improve remittances and enhance financial inclusion, following the example of El Salvador. Fusitu’a also said that Bitcoin could also enhance the revenue of the nation by reducing the reliability on costly money transfer services. He said:
“Replace commercial retail banking with BTC custody of a citizen’s finances in their pocket on a phone/hardware wallet instead of a commercial bank.”
There are also anticipations of Fiji experimenting with Bitcoin mining across the volcanic islands, given their abundance of hydro and other renewable energies. Fusitu’a said:
“Like Tonga, how to do nationalized Bitcoin mining, specifically how we were going to do geothermal volcano mining so they could both do the same but also make use of their massive hydro and other renewable stranded energy they have, which we don’t.”
Fiji has also completely targeted to rely on renewable energy sources by 2030, and Bitcoin mining could take advantage of such renewable energy gains.
Reportedly, the approach of Fiji is in contrast to other countries in the Asian Pacific region, such as Vanuatu, who have been more cautious towards it. Until last year, it banned cryptocurrencies, but recent developments have paved the way for steady digital adoption.