The Isle of Man Government are working hard to position themselves as one of the top blockchain business hubs in the world. The jurisdiction already plays host to a number of companies in the financial and iGaming industries, two industries that will benefit immensely from blockchain technology.
What also makes the Isle of Man so appealing to crypto and blockchain businesses is the ease of access to and the speed of the regulator. People want regulation in the blockchain space (a message constantly emphasized by Jimmy Nguyen of the Bitcoin Association) and blockchain regulation can be facilitated in the Isle of Man.
Jason Scales is the CEO of Hubb, Isle of Man’s blockchain & tech incubator, a professional who launched his first tech business at twelve years of age. He was an early adopter into Bitcoin and has been involved with large scale crypto mining deployments until Hubb came into fruition roughly one year ago.
“[The launch of Hubb] actually coincided at the same time when the government was planning the ‘blockchain office’, perfect timing in fact for the Isle of Man and it actually put us that step ahead of other jurisdictions because we have that physical access”, Scales told me.
So what kind of blockchain activity is taking place on the island today and how can the iGaming industry benefit? These are the exact questions I wanted Scales to answer during our interview together.
“Its pretty diverse”, Scales said of the blockchain industry on the island.
“The Isle of Man is quite similar to other offshore jurisdictions- Malta, Gibraltar, the Channel Islands- we’ve got a very successful financial industry and eGaming, eSports and sportsbook sectors as well. Most of the blockchain and crypto opportunities that are coming to the Isle of Man, they tend to sit in quite well with those industries”, he explained.
“The Isle of Man government have set up this what’s called ‘blockchain office’ which has a regulatory sandbox attached to it, so it allows companies in those sectors- that are in the blockchain and crypto space- it allows them to establish in the Isle of Man with temporary granted licenses to the sandbox, it allows them to test their ideas in a regulated environment”, he added.
“We’re seeing all sorts of activity, so we’ve got a crypto exchange on the Isle of Man called CoinCorner, we’ve got CasinoCoin based in the Hubb, so they’re looking to tokenize transactions within the casinos and on online gambling as well, so we’ve got quite a lot going on at the moment”, said Scales.
The Hubb serves as an incubator for blockchain businesses, while also providing an incentive for blockchain entrepreneurs to base themselves on the Isle of Man.
“The Hubb is a landing point for your business. Setting up in any jurisdiction that you’re not used to, especially one of the offshore jurisdictions, it can be quite a complicated process, but it doesn’t need to be”, Scales explained.
“The Hubb is here to look after you when you land in the Isle of Man. Our government blockchain office is based here within the Hubb, so by being based here you have direct access to government officials, you can talk to them, you can take advise from them, their door is always open”, he said.
“You have access to our expertise within the Hubb and we also set up a private support network for the private sector so accountants, banking, lawyers, you name it, we can make sure we find somebody who suits your sector and ultimately we provide a private office and co-working environment specifically to companies in the blockchain sector”, Scales added.
The iGaming industry in particular has the potential to be transformed by blockchain technology, both in terms of payments and platforms. While the benefits of blockchain are understood by many iGaming professionals, we are still in the early stages of mass adoption and still have some challenges to iron out along the way.
“There’s quite a lot of the eGaming, sportsbook and eSports companies wanting to accept crypto currencies, particularly Bitcoin”, shared Scales.
“One of the biggest problems they have with that is the companies in the space have spent so many years trying to protect their banking relationships…so in terms of trying to protect those relationships, all of sudden introducing, ‘oh by the way we’re accepting Bitcoin’, that introduces a whole new risk factor for their banking relationship and they just don’t want the hassle, but they do want to accept the currencies”, he explained.
“So we’ve actually seen quite a few new start-ups or spin-offs from existing operators on the Island who are setting up crypto-only platforms, so they are not mixing the fiat currencies with the crypto currencies, they’re doing platforms specifically for the crypto”, he said.
While mixing fiat and crypto may be viewed as a problem at present, Scales is confident the issue will resolve itself in a few years and we’ll see an emergence of currencies. In the meantime, the Hubb remains a sanctuary for innovative businesses who want to get ahead of the game.
“We’ve seen a Bitcoin-only eGaming company that actually started off in the Hubb the day before we were opened. We were still building furniture when they moved in and they left here about a month and a half ago, they’ve now got twelve people employed full time and I think their platform is due to go live in September, so we’ve already demonstrated that we can support businesses in this space, they are fully licensed and ready to go and we help them do that”, Scales revealed.