The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) will take a lead role in an initiative launched by the Bermuda government today to accelerate the establishment and growth of digital currency business on the island.
At a press conference held by Premier the Hon David Burt and National Security Minister the Hon Wayne Caines, the government announced the formation of a task force comprising two teams to advance Bermuda's regulatory environment as a destination for utility tokens, tokenised securities, cryptocurrencies, and coin offerings.
BDA Consultant for Emerging Technologies John Narraway was named as chair of the Blockchain Business Development Working Group, while BDA Board member Lydia Dickens will chair the Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Working Group, of which the BDA's Head of Business Development Sean Moran will also be a member. Minister for National Security Minister Wayne Caines will lead the effort.
"We are pleased to partner with the government and drive business development efforts of this strategy," said BDA CEO Ross Webber. "It's all part of our agency's push for economic diversification, to bring new business to the island, help boost GDP and create jobs, and ensure existing industry service providers are able to benefit, grow and expand. It's about innovating based on the strengths of the Bermuda market."
Today's announcement follows recent visits by the BDA to Silicon Valley to encourage start-up incubators to the island and the incorporation of two digital currency entities-e-sports company Unikrn Bermuda-and iCash, an online entertainment enterprise-in the past few months. As well, Bermuda saw the successful residency of Hub Culture's digital currency-powered innovation campus at the Ariel Sands property this summer. Another company, Vaphr, founded by Aron Dutta, the former global head of blockchain at IBM and managing director at Cisco Systems, is also in the process of incorporating its global platform on the island.
"There are significant opportunities in the sphere of cryptocurrency, but that window is getting smaller and moving faster than ever before," said Narraway, who has been examining emerging technologies for the BDA, including crypto assets, artificial intelligence, and biotech. "We are looking at all these areas and zeroing in on the key ones to move on."
Premier Burt said a regulatory framework for distributed ledger technologies (DLT) would become operational in early 2018. The framework would regulate the activities of firms operating in or from Bermuda that use DLT to store or transmit value belonging to others, such as virtual currency exchanges, coins and securitized tokens.
Coins or cryptocurrencies are digital currencies like bitcoin in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds. They operate independently of a central bank. Tokenised securities represent shares of a business, while utility tokens are services or units of such that can be purchased, providing a way to fund projects of shared infrastructure.
"Bermuda is committed to building upon its position as an innovative international business centre," said Premier Burt, "and is considering a complementary regulatory framework covering the promotion and sale of utility tokens, aligned with the DLT framework."
The government said Bermuda-based token issuers would need to join and comply with the code of conduct of the new Bermuda Crypto Association, including measures to ensure enhanced business transparency, KYC and AML.
The BDA has established a webpage providing information for those interested in establishing a cryptocurrency business in Bermuda