The Isle of Man, a jurisdiction with one the world’s most advanced legal frameworks for cryptocurrency and iGaming, is launching a new Blockchain Office and regulatory sandbox to cater to the relinquished billionaire blockchain market.
As reported by FSTech, the office will be dedicated to facilitating communication between regulators and companies in the sector, enabling the industry to flourish in the island. With support from the new office, companies will be able to participate in the Isle of Man Blockchain Sandbox, an experimental program which will allow blockchain businesses to experiment with new ideas with further regulatory freedom.
According to Lyle Wraxall, CEO of Digital Isle of Man, their goal is “to attract premium blockchain businesses and the world’s top exchanges to the Island”, under a comprehensive regulation “inspired by best practice that we’ve seen from other high-quality jurisdictions around the world”.
The office will also provide resources and guidance to participating companies and encourage collaboration within the industry. According to Tony Ure, head of Isle of Man’s eGaming Agency:
“(…) banking, lawyers, technical support. This is where the concept of the Blockchain Office came up, to actually support these guys and help them evolve and help evolve their platforms in a regulated direction so the actual FSA (IOM Financial Services Authority) would be able to regulate that vehicle and regulate future reiterations of it”
An international hub for blockchain businesses
With those efforts, Digital Isle of Man is hoping to attract the numerous affluent blockchain companies seeking a place with a comprehensive regulatory environment to settle after being smashed with increasingly prohibitive legislations worldwide.
The sandbox is accepting applications (early applicants are not being charged a fee) since March and is expected to go live in spring, along with the fully functional office. A robust selection will be conducted “in order that only the highest performing companies are qualified, creating in a ‘centre of excellence’ ecosystem”.
The jurisdiction has a solid history of commitment to the blockchain and iGaming sector, with a comprehensive regulatory framework allowing cryptocurrencies to be gambled and withdrawn with licensed operators, and was the first in the world to grant a license for a blockchain lottery.
According to the report, Isle of Man’s government is not looking to “regulate blockchain in isolation”, but to encourage emerging technology and allow blockchain innovations to be developed with maximum flexibility.
Integrating the iGaming and the blockchain industry in the IoM’s sandbox
Beyond supporting the progress of its blockchain industries, the office is being challenged to tackle a peculiar local phenomenon: in the Island of Man, many companies are blurring the lines between “gambling” and “blockchain” activities.
With a notoriously digital economy, the iGaming industry alone represents 17.5% of the Isle of Man’s GDP. In accordance, the jurisdiction is a well-respected regulator of digital gambling companies.
IoM’s government is also highly enthusiastic about blockchain technology: the jurisdiction was the first in the world to give a green light to digital currencies and has been strategically investing in the blockchain industry since 2015. Currently, it’s the headquarters for many leading exchanges and blockchain businesses like CoinCorner, Quanta, Luckbox, and Qadre.
Now, as iGaming companies increasingly incorporate the blockchain technology in their games, both the gambling and the blockchain industries seek guidance from the IoM on how to deal with this new mash-up.
Tony Ure draws the picture:
“We’ve seen a lot of combinations recently where [gaming companies] are using token-based or blockchain-based tokens for their casino game in online gaming. There’s a natural fit of how do you regulate the blockchain and the ICO side of it and the tokens and the online casino uses, of what is really a chip-based coin, has a lot of possibilities,”
The answer, according to the Head of eGaming for Isle of Man Digital Agency, is in their new sandbox – the perfect opportunity for both the blockchain and the iGaming industry to experiment with these new developments.
Ure invite entrepreneurs to try it:
“We have this reputation where nobody has gone bust and lost the players funds, we’ve always protected the players’ money from the offset and made sure the game is fair, and you’re looking for a jurisdiction where you can sandbox (…) We’re looking for high quality blockchain businesses, high quality companies, we want to create an environment where they can grow and these guys will drive what’s going to happen in the future”