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Isle of Man – Isle of Man sets up Blockchain office and new software suppliers licence

By - 14 February 2019

Digital Isle of Man has just had two key launches in blockchain and a new licence for software suppliers looking to demonstrate their high standards for corporate governance and game fairness.

The formation of a Blockchain Office and the launch of an Isle of Man Blockchain Sandbox is aiming to guide blockchain businesses through current, and future, regulatory landscapes, with expert-led assistance and support.

These initiatives form part of a major new commitment for the Isle of Man to become an international hub for blockchain businesses, providing a fully supportive and collaborative environment. The Island welcomes innovative technology and will not regulate blockchain in isolation, which will give businesses the flexibility to best use this emerging and transformative technology.

The primary function of the Office will be to facilitate a dialogue between businesses and regulators, and to help blockchain platforms design and future-proof their concepts in accordance with relevant legislation and regulation.
The Office will also provide expertise, guidance, and marketing support, as well as facilitate and encourage collaboration between companies. Through the Blockchain Office, businesses will be able to apply to participate in the Isle of Man Blockchain Sandbox.

Applications for the sandbox will be open from March 2019, with the office fully functional in the spring. Early participants will not be charged fees for the facility, which will provide them with access to an environment where they can develop and test blockchain platforms.

The sandbox will benefit from the expertise garnered from future participation in other international forums and sandboxes that encourage cross-border testing.

A robust selection process will also ensure that all participants are of the highest quality, as the Island seeks to create a ‘centre of excellence’ ecosystem.

Lyle Wraxall, CEO of Digital Isle of Man commented: “With the launch of the Blockchain Office and Sandbox, the Isle of Man is making a firm commitment to be a fully supportive jurisdiction for the blockchain industry. 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.”

Interaction between blockchain and the e-Gaming sector is already evidenced in Isle of Man legislation that allows virtual currencies to be deposited, withdrawn and gambled with e-Gaming operators, and the Island is home to the first blockchain-enabled lottery platform run on Ethereum using smart contracts.

Daphne Caine MHK, Political Member for Digital Isle of Man commented: “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.

“The creation of the Blockchain Office solidifies our commitment to maintaining our reputation at the forefront of innovation and emerging technologies and responding quickly to new business models. It is encouraging to see that the sector is supported by a community of legal, accountancy and fiduciary firms, service providers and advisors, and the Island’s long-established financial services and e-Gaming sectors act as a strong foundation for the industry.”

Showing support for the Isle of Man’s latest blockchain announcements, Danny Scott, CEO, CoinCorner, said: “The Isle of Man Government has always been very supportive of the industry. As one of the first Bitcoin exchanges to be established on the Island, CoinCorner has been fortunate to work closely with the Government on a number of key projects including drafting the current ‘Virtual Currency Business’ guidelines. Being located here has given us strong foundations and it’s great to see innovation continue in an industry with such potential.”

The other big news was with the launch of the GSC’s (Gambling Supervision Commission) Software Supplier Licence (B2B) has been developed over recent months following high demand from companies located around the world requesting to be licensed by a highly experienced regulator.

Software suppliers who obtain a licence can ensure they meet the same high standards as the Isle of Man-licensed operators they supply their games to.

While the licence is not mandatory to supply software to Isle of Man licensed operators, there are a host of benefits for those who choose to be licensed.

As part of the licensing process, the software supplier will ensure that its games have been tested and certified. It can then show the Gambling Supervision Commission the testing certificate for its games and this will allow them to be placed on the GSC games registry.

Any games on the registry can be used by Isle of Man licensees without the GSC requesting an additional testing certificate. This will significantly speed up the time it takes software suppliers to integrate their games with Isle of Man-licensed operators potentially resulting in significant cost savings.

Tony Ure, Head of e-Gaming at the Department for Enterprise, said: “We have received a high volume of requests from software developers from around the world for us to license their games and platforms. To meet this demand, we have developed a Software Supplier Licence (B2B) that ensures software suppliers meet the same high standards we expect from our operator licensees. As e-Gaming markets around the world look to improve their reputation, this licence will allow software developers to enter partnerships with operators safe in the knowledge they are doing everything they can to ensure their games are fair. Other benefits include the credibility that comes with holding an Isle of Man licence. This can really help software developers strike deals with licensed operators in markets around the world as well as with key business partners in areas such as finance, legal and more by providing testimony that the company is run to high standards of corporate governance.”

Mark Rutherford, Deputy CEO of the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, added: “It became clear to us that there was an opportunity to improve the system, which could make checking the fairness of games easier and faster. Software licensing is actually the most efficient way of achieving what we wanted and provides for greater efficiency in game deployment, lower costs and a shorter time-to-market for our existing operators.”

Caption: The Honorable Laurence Skelly from the Isle of Man’s Department for Enterprise with Tony Ure, Head of e-gaming

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