Located in Europe, on the southern tip of Spain, the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is a bubbling hotbed of crypto adoption.
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Digital and Financial Services and a member of the country’s parliament, explained Gibraltar’s approach to crypto and shed some light on his own investment interests.
Isola played a pivotal role in shepherding Gibraltar’s purpose-built distributed ledger technology (DLT) regulatory framework. However, he’s also a Bitcoiner.Isola (left) in front of a picture of the Gibraltar peninsula, known as “the Rock.”
Speaking from the Ministerial offices in Gibraltar, he told Joe Hall “I do have Bitcoin,” (BTC). He continued:“I’m not at the stage yet where it’s something that I’d use on a regular basis, it’s more about buying some for the benefit of my kids in the years to come. I don’t touch it.”
While spending Bitcoin at one of the Costa Coffee’s that now accept Bitcoin in Gibraltar might not be his thing, he explained that adoption of Bitcoin is going to increase, “as more and more jurisdictions begin to regulate it.”“I’m not at the stage yet where it’s something that I’d use on a regular basis, it’s more about buying some for the benefit of my kids in the years to come. I don’t touch it.”
Gibraltar is an appealing regulatory jurisdiction for crypto companies. Since 2018, when DLT legislation came into force more and more companies have considered the European territory. Obi Nwosu, co-founder and CEO of Fedi, told Cointelegraph, “In the realms of regulated jurisdictions, Gibraltar has always been the most interesting.” He brought Coinfloor (now CoinCorner) to Gibraltar four years ago following the 2018 regulations.
Xapo, a Bitcoin-based private bank recently chose to open its international branch in Gibraltar. Its CEO Wences Casares is known as “Patient Zero” after orange-pilling Silicon Valley executives, while the Xapo offices are carved out of Gibraltar’s ancient military defenses. Moorish fortifications dating back to 711— the oldest ramparts in Gibraltar — now defend the office wine cellar.The door to Xapo’s wine cellar. The walls are 1,300 years old.
Indeed, despite a small population of 35,000, the territory packs a punch in the crypto space. Crypto companies such as Damex and Tap.global have or had a presence in the tiny land area. Plus, Mexican exchange Bitso partnered with Gibraltar late last year to digitize government services.
Nonetheless, regulation is “not a joke — it’s partner style,” Xapo chief technology officer Anouska Streets told Cointelegraph. Indeed, in recent months Gibraltar rolled out regulations to combat market abuse. Isola reinforced the point:“If they [DLT companies] are not prepared to meet the standards of regulation and quality that we aspire to, they will not be licensed.”
The government used the same stringent yet partnership-first process for the gaming space in 2014. Now around 75% of the United Kingdom’s online gaming is done from Gibraltar, from around 15 businesses, Isola reported.Isola also led gaming and commerce activities on The Rock.
Related: Andorra green lights Bitcoin and blockchain with Digital Assets Act
2018 was the last Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space bear market in which the DLT regulation was fleshed out and in the ensuing bull market of 2020 and 2021, Gibraltar reaped the rewards. In the 2022 bear market, or “down time,” as Isola delicately describes it, businesses in Gibraltar are “very well placed to take advantage of the upside and at the same time manage themselves in the downtime.”“I think our DLT firms are well placed to ride the the the storms and then take advantage of the upside as and when it comes.”
While Bitcoin-backed businesses benefit from Gibraltar’s approach to regulation, in light of recent Bitcoin bear market rallies, Isola might be right in wishing to hold onto his Bitcoin for the next generation.
Cointelegraph visited Gibraltar to conduct the video interview which will contribute to Cointelegraph’s media coverage on Youtube. Subscribe here.