Self-Governed, Non-Regulated ‘British’ Isle Gets Experimental with Blockchain

The Isle of Man has launched an official Blockchain Office and free developer sandbox designed to entice industry leaders to lay down roots on the small island.

Although the Isle of Man’s citizens are British, and the island is regarded as a British dependency, Man has never been part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union.

This has granted the essentially self-governing state free reign to experiment with the cutting edge of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology – as evidenced by its launch of an Ethereum-based lottery, and official legislature which allows cryptocurrencies to be legally wagered on online e-gaming sites.

Blockchain Hub

The Isle of Man’s newly formed Blockchain Office will encapsulate a broad range of responsibilities, as announced in FStech. The main aims of the office will be to offer a welcoming venue for dialogue between firms and regulators – in order to help projects stay future-proofed against as yet unseen regulations.

The office will also look to provide marketing guidance, support and expertise, while helping to foster collaboration between those companies which fall under its umbrella.

Essentially it will be a place where CEO’s, developers and regulators can get together and spitball ideas without fear of regulatory pressure or suspicion. The chief executive of Digital Isle of Man, Lyle Wraxall, said:

“We are looking to attract premium blockchain businesses and the world’s top exchanges to the Island, and we will be creating new tech-agnostic regulation inspired by best practice that we’ve seen from other high-quality jurisdictions around the world.”

The varying levels of regulatory pressure around the globe has seen multiple startups – especially exchanges – hop from place to place in search of the most welcoming laws.

Blockchain Sandbox

Through interaction with the office, the first participants will be selected for the blockchain sandbox. They will be granted free access to specially built facilities where they can test out their latest ideas – both theoretically and physically.

Daphne Caine, also part of Man’s digital initiative group, talked up the Isle of Man’s pioneering approach to crypto and blockchain industries. She said:

“The Isle of Man – which was among the first jurisdictions in the world to establish a legislative framework for virtual currencies – has been home to leading exchanges since 2013, and is the headquarters of blockchain businesses including CoinCorner, Quanta, Luckbox and Qadre.”

An Experiment in the Sea

The Isle of Man’s quick adoption of blockchain tech was helped by its maverick position both politically and geographically in relation to its UK and EU neighbours. Rent costs in Man’s capital of Douglas are as much as 57% cheaper than in London, and while this may seem a small factor, it could be the deciding one when it comes to startups deciding to where to…start from.

A similar trend has emerged further north in recent years, as Scotland attempts to entice entrepreneurs and startups to its big cities, where the difference in cost of living is even more pronounced compared to the English capital.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.