5 Countries That Are Betting on Blockchain
As cryptocurrency hits the digital wallets of citizens in countries around the world, different governments are reacting in different ways. While some clamp down on the industry, others are seizing the opportunity to take advantage of its rapid growth.
Those countries with a keen eye on the potential of the technology are devising new laws and regulations to help foster the growth of the industry. In response, blockchain and cryptocurrency companies are flocking to them.
These five countries are becoming the go-to crypto-friendly jurisdictions for up-and-coming blockchain companies.
Switzerland — Crypto Valley
This mountainous European country is well-known for punching above its weight in the banking world and it has now expanded its focus to cryptocurrency.
Switzerland has implemented some decidedly pro-crypto regulations, leading the likes of Ethereum and Tezos to establish a base in the country.
Many of the blockchain companies that have taken residence in Switzerland are clustered in an area known as “Crypto Valley” — a region close to the city of Zug which is aiming to build a global hub for blockchain and cryptocurrency. Rumour has it that they are even implementing digital identities for Zug residents on the Ethereum blockchain.
Switzerland also pioneered guidelines to help local startups launch ICOs in compliance with the local law. This has given crypto companies the green light to use the fundraising model to access capital, helped funds flow into the country from all corners of the globe.
Japan — Home to the Virtual Currency Girls
Japan is well-known for its enigmatic mix of the ancient and the futuristic, mingling ancient beliefs and rituals into one of the most high-tech societies on earth
Perhaps this is why Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto chose this country for his moniker (although it is widely believed that the mysterious creator — or creators — were actually based in Europe or North America).
Nevertheless, Bitcoin has taken the country by storm. Ever since Bitcoin Cash supporter Roger Ver set foot on Japanese shores in 2006, interest has steadily grown. As of today. Japanese Yen accounts for more than 50% of global bitcoin trade, and cryptocurrency has been officially recognized as Legal Tender. The country even birthed the world’s first cryptocurrency-themed J pop band — “The Virtual Currency Girls”.
This is a result of Japan’s supportive regulatory environment, which is pushing ahead to confront issues that are barely on the radar of the rest of the world — like privacy coins, which have already hit the Japanese courts as other countries just begin to understand them.
This favorable regulatory environment has created an influx of corporate interest. Tech firms, retailers, and even banks have started working with cryptocurrency: Adding bitcoin as a payment method, launching crypto exchanges, and funding new ventures to push the ecosystem forward.
South Korea — The Third Biggest Bitcoin Market
Just across the sea, Japan’s neighbor South Korea has also started to lead the way towards pro-crypto regulations.
After Japan and the USA, South Korea is the third biggest market for Bitcoin trading, and the largest market for Ethereum. But crypto hasn’t always been popular with authorities, and in late 2017 the government decided to follow China’s lead and issue a blanket ban on ICOs.
This decision was later reversed as the country revealed plans to launch their own blockchain city in Busan — modeled after Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. This led to a change in heart by the government, who introduced more lenient regulations on ICOs and announced their intention to lead the “fourth industrial revolution” — one which will be powered by blockchain.
Gibraltar — Gambling Haven Turned Crypto Haven
Tacked on to the southern tip of Spain, this tiny British territory might seem an unlikely haven for cryptocurrency. But, Gibraltar was one of the first places to set up the regulatory framework for blockchain technology back in May 2017.
This comprehensive set of new laws lifted the regulatory uncertainty that was still looming over most of the rest of the world, and made the jurisdiction very attractive to cryptocurrency businesses.
By encouraging a safe environment for both blockchain developers and investors, it is thought that the country hopes to replicate the success it has achieved with offshore online gambling.
Companies from this industry moved to Gibraltar in droves when the country introduced a regulatory regime that balanced favorable taxation with a strict licensing process.
Malta — Blockchain Island
The Mediterranean island of Malta has placed itself at the center of cryptocurrency and blockchain. With low corporate taxes and a government keen to establish forward-thinking regulations, a clear invitation has been made for crypto companies. This has led many of the top exchanges and start-ups to its sunny shores.
Aside from regulation, Malta is also working on integrating blockchain into all facets of society: Building co-working spaces aimed at blockchain companies, and creating crypto-focused programs and departments at universities. These efforts have earned it the nickname “Blockchain Island”.
As the European Union’s tiniest member, many hope that Malta’s regulatory efforts will influence the decisions of EU lawmakers and serve as an example for other regulators across Europe.