Dubai-based investment migration firm Brookes and Partners yesterday revealed they would begin accepting payments for their citizenship and residence by investment-related services in Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Ripple.
The decision to facilitate crypto-payments, CEO Gareth Brookes told Investment Migration Insider, came partly as a result of requests from clients, which have been increasing in frequency over the last year, as well as a recognition of the growing number of crypto-fortunes out there.
“We have seen a growing trend over the past three months with clients in countries in certain Middle Eastern countries and Asia who are now sitting on huge amounts of surplus “digital liquidity” following the price-spike in blockchain-based currencies such as Bitcoin.”
Recent months have seen a string of announcements detailing the accelerating integration of the investment migration industry and blockchain-technology – a match made in heaven – most recently when Vanuatu stated applicants could pay the qualifying contribution for its citizenship by investment program in bitcoin via the Vanuatu Information Center.
Brookes also cites the slow-moving nature of the traditional banking system as a driving factor behind his firm’s move.
“In the past, we’ve seen long delays on international transfers caused by banking AML/KYC procedures and have often had to wait weeks to receive clients’ already cleared payments, especially from customers in countries in countries like China, India, and Iran. With cryptocurrency, we are now able to cut out the central and clearing banks and receive payment in a matter of minutes, not hours, days or weeks. This allows us to start preparing the client’s application more or less immediately, which has been extremely beneficial for clients who wish to secure their second citizenship sooner rather than later,” said Brookes.
While the consultancy will be accepting cryptocurrencies for their own legal, due diligence and local agent fees, the qualifying investment, per se, must in most cases still be paid in fiat currency because programs generally require that contributions or investment funds be paid directly from the client’s bank account. Cyprus and Vanuatu, however, are exceptions, as under these programs clients may pay also for the requisite investment in cryptocurrencies.
“What has been encouraging has been our ever popular program Cyprus where a €2m investment is required for property purchases to secure EU citizenship. Several clients have suffered lengthy delays while transferring payments to the EU. With crypto, we now have effective mechanisms in place to facilitate digital currency payments for the purchase of properties,” said the Dubai based CEO, who is also quick to point out that the decision to offer more flexible means of payment does not imply laxer due diligence standards.
“Stringent background checks still remain on the individual before we accept any form of cryptocurrency transfer, and the requisite government compliance rules for Caribbean & European CIPs are upheld before any individual is considered for naturalization. Our firm and our clients are still subject to the same KYC/AML regulations as before,” said Brookes, adding that he nonetheless believes this marks a paradigm change for the industry.
“We need to stay ahead of the game and aid our clients with the latest technologies and payment facilities to ensure a seamless engagement with our firm. Our first Bitcoin client was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the whole process was, as was our team. Blockchain payments are the way forward, mark my words.”