A Lesson From Gibraltar: How to Build a Blockchain Bastion

In the letter

  • Albert Isola is Gibraltar’s Minister for Financial Services and Games.
  • He spoke to the Decrypt Daily about Bitcoin, CBDCs, Gibraltar’s perspective on regulating crypto, and how the territory is fueling growth in the blockchain space.

Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Financial Services and Games, spends a lot of time thinking about blockchain. That’s because Gibraltar has been trying to become a hotspot for crypto trading in Europe for the past few years. Isola’s job is to oversee regulation without inhibiting growth.

Officially, Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, similar to the Turks and Caicos Islands or Bermuda. But Gibraltar is unique among these British territories as it is located in continental Europe on the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has its own currency – the Gibraltar pound – which is interchangeable with the British pound, but technically different. And his government, although working very closely with the British, is a separate entity.

In an interview on the Decrypt daily In yesterday’s podcast, Isola offered a glimpse into his thoughts on blockchain and outlined some of his plans to make Gibraltar a haven for blockchain users.

“There are a number of different reasons why we want to look into digital currencies,” said Isola. “It’s not so much a burning need to have an alternative currency, but rather to encourage innovation to understand that innovations can only take place if they fall within a legal framework.”

Isola explained that the Gibraltar government is creating blockchain education plans to help spread the gospel. “We have set up courses hand in hand with private sector companies,” he said, “to use their expertise in our schools such as our university to promote education, knowledge and research in the blockchain area.”

Isola also spoke about some of the unique challenges Gibraltar is facing as British territory. He stated that the small size of the government presented a unique opportunity. “All small areas like ours have to be agile,” he said. “And the agility gives us the ability to deliver niche markets and be better at them than some of the larger jurisdictions.”

Agility in this context means taking advantage of the size of Gibraltar and encouraging companies to work with crypto. Isola said the government has already led 15 companies into the blockchain space of the territory, and 10 more are currently applying to operate from Gibraltar. This isn’t a big deal until you consider that Gibraltar is only home to 34,000 people.

When asked about the recent surge in Bitcoin and what it could mean for the future of crypto adoption, Isola was optimistic: “I believe there will be greater and greater acceptance … as it becomes more regulated and international standards to be applied to its application use in the future. “