Lord Fusitu – a Tongan barrister, landowner, and MP – is a fervent supporter of making Bitcoin a true currency inside the nation’s borders. He plans on tabling a bill to make Bitcoin legal tender alongside Tonga’s national currency, the pa’anga.
Why Make Bitcoin Legal Tender in Tonga?
Tonga is a small island nation and archipelago east of Australia. As reported by Financial Review, Fusitu’s first step towards adopting Bitcoin is to work with Jack Maller’s digital wallet “Strike.” It will help Tongan’s receive full remittance payments from their overseas workers, which Fusitu says is a crucial issue.
“Tonga is the highest remittance-dependent country on earth. Between 38% and 41.1% of our GDP, depending on which World Bank figures you use, is remittances.”
According to the MP, Western Union “takes a 30 percent bite” out of remittances sent back to the country, as things stand. This is similar to the plight of El Salvador, where he says Western Union fees are “closer to 50%.” Likewise, El Salvador was the first country to make Bitcoin legal tender last month.
Through Strike, the nation’s citizens can use Bitcoin’s lightning network to send each other remittance payments at virtually no cost. Therefore, the app’s widespread use could be an incredible boon to Tonga’s economic growth. Furthermore, Strike may not need to receive approval from parliament or Tonga’s central bank, being a complete commercial solution.
Jack Mallers, founder of Zap Solutions, is a fierce critic of Western Union, believing his wallet as a superior alternative, which is now utilized by Twitter to allow for Bitcoin tips through the social media platform.
Besides remittances, Fusitu also believes that Tonga can benefit from Bitcoin’s core properties as money.
“Bitcoin is the first truly global natively open monetary system. Blockchain is the most optimal storage medium for money if your goal is decentralization and complete, egalitarian democratization of money.”
Will Tonga be Next to Make Bitcoin Legal Tender?
Regarding his legal-tender bill, Fusitu won’t be able to present it until Tonga’s next state opening of parliament in 2022. However, the MP remains confident that he can overcome political resistance to his proposal.
Indeed, he may have a long road ahead of him before seeing this bill pass. Sione Ngongo Kioa, governor of the Reserve Bank of Tonga, is not exactly open to it.
“The adoption of Bitcoin as an official alternative currency is definitely unlikely,” he recently said.