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Unbanked: Marshall Islands Gets Further Cut Off From the World’s Money

What happens to a country if it loses access to the world’s money?

On the Marshall Islands–a chain of volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, population 53,066—the only homegrown bank can’t issue credit cards, doesn’t have any ATMs and sends well-worn dollar bills between its island branches by boat. But it had been able to let islanders send and receive money from abroad through a link with Honolulu-based First Hawaiian Bank .

Now, it is in danger of losing that crucial financial tie to the outside world as First Hawaiian, a unit of France’s BNP Paribas , prepares to close down all business with the Bank of the Marshall Islands. Without an international banking relationship, the bank gets cut off from a number of services, not just from handling international money transfers but also cashing paychecks from one of the island’s largest employers—the U.S. military base…