Fiji central bank warns against crypto use, disappointing Bitcoin hopes

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The Fijian prime minister’s reported consultations on introducing Bitcoin into the economy seem to have been in vain.

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Fiji central bank warns against crypto use, disappointing Bitcoin hopes

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The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) has issued a warning to the public against using cryptocurrency for payment or investment. This is a reversal of the Fijian prime minister’s perceived position on crypto.

Fijian residents may even face criminal charges for investing in cryptocurrency abroad using “funds held in Fiji,” the release added. Apparently, the warning was motivated by cryptocurrency promotion in the country:

“The Governor of the RBF, Mr Ariff Ali acknowledges that there are indications of persons or entities promoting cryptocurrency investment schemes in Fiji. These investment schemes are increasingly being promoted through various platforms including social media.”

The RBF has not licensed any person or entity to provide cryptocurrency investments or trade in virtual assets, it said.

Hopes were high for the adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) in Fiji after Sitiveni Rabuka, a long-time presence on Fiji’s political scene, became prime minister in December 2022. This was mainly due to the pronouncements of Tongan member of parliament and nobleman Mata’i’ulua ‘i Fonuamotu, Lord Fusitu’a, who labeled Rabuka “pro-Bitcoin” in an X (then Twitter) post shortly after Rabuka’s election. “Let’s go 2 for 2 – BTC Legal Tender Bills for the Pacific in 2023,” Fusitu’a posted.

Source: Lord Fusitu’a.

Lord Fusitu’a went on to explain that Rabuka “asked me to meet with him a number of times & show him step by step how Fiji can do bitcoin legal tender like Tonga.” A comment on Fusitu’a’s post noted that Rabuka had not made any public statements on the use of Bitcoin. “I don’t think he’s been asked about it,” Lord Fusitu’a replied.

Lord Fusitu’a was a vocal proponent of the introduction of Bitcoin in 2022, to the extent of converting the national treasury to the cryptocurrency. Those measures have yet to be enacted in the country.

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The new statement from the RBF is in line with the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on cryptocurrency. The IMF released a paper on the use of digital money in Pacific Island countries in February in which it called cryptocurrencies “poor substitutes for means of payment, and they carry additional macroeconomic risks.”

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