As published on financemagnates.com, Monday February 3, 2020.
Denis Pitcher, the chief fintech advisor to Premier David Burt of Bermuda, has big dreams for building a crypto and blockchain ecosystem in the tiny island nation. According to a recent interview he conducted with CoinDesk, Mr. Pitcher believes that the creation of this ecosystem could bridge Bermuda’s economy with the rest of the world.
Mr. Pitcher’s comments focused around the implications of the fact that the government of Bermuda announced late last year that it would be accepting digital currency payments in USD-backed digital currencies that are licensed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
“By allowing the government to accept it, it provides an opportunity for merchants to start saying, ‘Well, I can look at accepting digital dollars,’” he told CoinDesk.
He believes that this could eventually cause merchants to start using digital currency as well: if the government accepts digital currency payments, then “taxi operators, tourism operators, commercial businesses have a place to actually spend, which means that you’re not going to have to fall back to the traditional financial system,” he explained.
This, he hopes, will eventually act as a pathway into the global economy, which Bermuda has remained somewhat isolated from: “our history allows us to really understand financial services,” he said.
“But the challenge that comes from this is that when it comes to access to financial services, Bermudians are largely excluded. We don’t have access to PayPal, Revolut or Square, and in order to actually get access to the Apple App Store, we buy credit or gift cards.”
Bermuda put itself on the map as one of a string of microstates that were taking big steps toward the cryptocurrency industry in 2017, when it launched a blockchain task force in conjunction with the Bermuda Business Development Agency in late 2017.
Then, in 2018, the country announced a comprehensive regulatory framework for crypto. Because Bermuda’s population is roughly 60,000 people (and its government is accordingly small), the country was able to move quickly to create legislation for cryptocurrency.
The move prompted a $15 million investment agreement with cryptocurrency exchange Binance in April of 2018. A month later, Premier David Burt told CoinDesk that “we believe over the last nine months that our government has shown that not only are we open for business, but we mean business.”
Last month, Winklevoss-founded crypto exchange and custodian, the Gemini Trust Company, launched Nakamoto Ltd., captive insurance company licensed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) to insure Gemini Custody.