Plans for blockchain-focused economic zone gain traction

Papua New Guinea is looking to foster an enabling environment for blockchain development as it finds a partner to establish an economic zone dedicated to the technology.

In May, US-based blockchain firm, Ledger Atlas, inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port Moresby government for the company to design the operational guidelines for PNG’s planned blockchain-focused special economic zone (SEZ)

As the country’s first SEZ of this kind, it is intended to serve as a global financial centre for blockchain activity, enabling tech solutions to be developed in an incubator-like environment. The Finschhafen District on the north-east coast of the Morobe Province has been proposed as the suitable location.

US venture capitalist Tim Draper has also committed to providing financial support for the project with further backing expected to come from other offshore investors.

“Technology is the future of any country,” Rainbo Paita, the member of parliament for Finschhafen, told press following the signing of the MoU. “We a small country but that does not mean we shouldn’t take bold and calculated risk.”

Blockchain solutions to improve financial inclusion

New blockchain solutions and devices are already being trailed in PNG as part of the government and central bank’s efforts to foster financial inclusion.

One such project is IDBox, which is currently being tested in the remote village of Lalaura, six-hours east of Port Moresby in Central Province. The solar-powered unit formulates a unique ID- created with a map of their phone and fingerprints that allows users to access financial services such as micro-finance, micro-insurance and remittances services.

Initiatives such as these could take advantage of the fact that mobile coverage is available to 90 percent of the population, according to data released by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in mid-May.

By contrast around 85 percent of the population remains unbanked, as per Bank of PNG data, with one of the contributing factors being distance from banking facilities: less than 20 percent of PNG’s 8m-strong population live in urban centres with easy access to bricks-and-mortar financial services.

Given its potential

Source: Loop PNG

Date: 6th July, 2018



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