Chief Minister Fabian Picardo detailed ‘ambitious plans’ in the field of crypto with the Rock set to publish a policy on ‘token sale’ regulations next week, the Gibraltar International Fintech Conference heard yesterday.
The two-day conference held at the Sunborn was yesterday opened by Mr Picardo and the Minister for Commerce, Albert Isola, who both discussed the newest local innovations Gibraltar will be introducing.
Close to 30 crypto businesses have applied for licences under the recently introduced Distributed Ledger Technology [DLT] regulations.
The international conference included 270 attendees with 110 international business representatives from countries including China, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, America and Canada, with Mr Picardo extending a “particularly special” welcome to the international visitors.
“Gibraltar has positioned itself as an innovative and forward looking jurisdiction,” Mr Picardo said.
“We continue to seek new areas of business to develop and excel in. We have a hugely successful track record demonstrated by the strength and quality inherent in our e-gaming community. We demonstrated global leadership by creating and delivering the DLT framework in January 2018, the first in the world.”
Mr Picardo detailed “ambitious plans” to develop and devolve, with next on the agenda being regulation for token sales.
The regulation for token sales is expected to be introduced in the second quarter of this year, Mr Picardo told the conference.
“Our regulator will maintain the highest standards, no soft or light touch is accepted here,” Mr Picardo said.
Mr Picardo added that Gibraltar will continue to invest in its future in order diversify and offering to meet future challenges.
“Gibraltar is open for business and we thank you for taking an interest in what we can do for you,” Mr Picardo said.
Mr Isola then gave an address detailing Gibraltar’s journey in FinTech, and how the durability of Rock’s “success will depend on how we manage ourselves now.”
“When we started this journey three years ago we were cautious,” Mr Isola said.
“We were more than cautious, we were actually quite negative. We didn’t like a lot of the things around the space and a lot of people around the space. But in those short three years from when we did the first, second and third consultation what we found is the quality of people and the partners and stakeholders in this business have become more and more serious, professional and committed to work in set guidelines and in a framework.”
Mr Isola called Gibraltar the online gaming community of the world and said this success was due to regulation.
He drew parallels between the emerging betting market some 23 years ago and this FinTech market that is now growing.
“We capture over 75% of the UK online gaming business,” Mr Isola said.
“It is an enormous chunk, but we have done that in the right way.”
Mr Isola added Gibraltar’s “philosophy” with regulations and “mind and management” based locally has remained the same.
He said there will be “no compromise” on these basic principles as this is what has worked for Gibraltar.
“In those 23 years not one single Gibraltar gaming firm has failed,” Mr Isola said.
“We believe the model works and we believe we need to apply that same model to this sector.”
Mr Isola said it is “critical” for Gibraltar to “encourage and embrace innovation”.
“We are proud to be working with the Blockchain community because we believe it has a long term sustainable business to run that we want to be a part of,” Mr Isola told the conference.
He added, however, there has been one area that has given him concern being token sales.
Token sales or Initial Coin Offerings [ICO] is a popular way to fund cryptocurrency projects and usually takes place before the project is completed as a source of funds.
Mr Isola recognised there are a lot of untrustworthy ICOs and Gibraltar does “not want those”.
“We want good token sales, issued from Gibraltar and listed on our exchanges,” Mr Isola said.
Gibraltar will publish its main policy on token sales next week.
“We have taken a deep dive into token sales and how those are run, best practice is what we always ask all our professional firms to adopt and in a world that is so new, where we are suddenly filled with crypto experts overnight it is important that we understand what we are doing,” Mr Isola said.
“It is important that we understand the need for regulation and standards. It is important primarily that the professionals out in this space understand what we expect from you. Those expectations are high, you are our gate keepers.”
Mr Isola asked for support, understanding and diligence from the entrepreneurs, with 25 to 30 applications so far under the DLT regulations.
“Extremely exciting time for Gibraltar and we are prepared to do it carefully, sensibly and under a regulated framework and gives consumers the protection they deserve, and transparency and disclosure that we expect from anyone that does business from our jurisdiction,” Mr Isola said.