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IMF Report Advocates for Digital Currencies to Boost Financial Inclusion in Pacific Islands

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has highlighted the potential of digital currencies, including stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), to enhance financial inclusion and improve financial services in the Pacific Islands.

A report released by the IMF on March 25 delves into the impact these digital currencies could have on the economies of these remote and dispersed nations.

The 58-page document crafted by IMF’s senior economists identifies significant challenges for the Pacific Islands, emphasizing the importance of financial services for overcoming poverty and inequality.

A particular concern for these nations is their heavy reliance on remittances and the detrimental effects of reduced correspondent banking relationships.

The IMF sees digital currencies as a means to develop payment systems, broaden financial inclusion, and address these banking challenges.

Though the report leans towards the advantages of CBDCs, a preference of the IMF, it doesn’t disregard the role of private stablecoins, specifically those backed by foreign currencies.

However, it advises against smaller Pacific Island countries issuing their own stablecoins due to the potential lack of regulatory oversight.

Tether, a well-known private stablecoin, is specifically mentioned within this context.

For countries with their own national currencies and established banking systems, the report suggests a dual-structure CBDC model.

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This approach involves the central bank issuing the digital currency while entrusting its operation to private entities.

On the other hand, for nations without their own currencies, the IMF considers foreign currency-backed stablecoins as a viable option, contingent on strict regulation and supervision.

The report acknowledges that none of the Pacific Island countries currently use private cryptocurrencies or stablecoins officially.

However, a few, including Fiji, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, are exploring the possibilities of adopting a CBDC.

The IMF has been a staunch advocate for the adoption of CBDCs globally. In November 2023, its managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, emphasized the importance of the public sector preparing to implement CBDCs.

She posited that CBDCs could not only replace cash but also serve as a “safe and low-cost alternative” to private money, underlining the IMF’s support for digital currency initiatives as a means to foster financial inclusivity and resilience among the world’s most isolated economies.

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