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Digital Isle of Man: building a blockchain ecosystem

By - 3 August 2022

As the Isle of Man continues to report an increase in enquiries from businesses wanting to relocate to the island, Tony Ure, Head of eGaming at Digital Isle of Man, details the executive agency’s role in this growth and building a reputation as a home for crypto and blockchain businesses.

What are the agency’s priorities to create the right environment for the Isle of Man’s digital sector to flourish?

Our focus is primarily on creating a supportive ecosystem for businesses to grow and flourish. We serve as a conduit for businesses to access the government and help resolve any issues or problems.

I see our job as twofold – to help businesses on the island grow and to help bring businesses to the island. Once they are on the island, we’ve got a massive ecosystem – operators, B2B suppliers, data centres, corporate service providers, banks, and infrastructure.

The Isle of Man’s relocation services don’t just help in business matters but assist in helping to make a relocation seamless such as finding schools and doctors.

We’ve got a significant number of B2B, B2C, and blockchain companies, and we’ve recently issued licences for software companies and crypto casinos. Recently, Digital Isle of Man has been instrumental in working with the Financial Services Authority to launch an innovation hub and also to create an innovation challenge for the Fintech sector.

The Isle of Man continues to report an increase in enquiries from businesses wanting to relocate to the island. What is driving this increase?

When the pandemic hit and conferences were cancelled, it was the busiest two years we’ve ever had.

Through the pandemic we were a relatively safe place with little lockdown and operating pretty much as normal. Several businesses, particularly those who were Asia facing, saw a significant portion of their businesses shut down. Working from home works in some places, but not where there is limited WiFi and back office access.

A lot of those affected companies set up operational centres on the island to ensure business continuity and that they had a safe and stable place from which to operate.

From a legislative perspective, how is the Isle of Man ensuring it remains an agile jurisdiction that embraces innovation early?

Being a self-governing jurisdiction certainly helps! The gambling regulator has always been very pragmatic in improving regulation.

If a business comes to us and says they’d like to do something but X, Y and Z are the obstacles, we’ll look at those obstacles and the impact and reasoning behind those rules being enacted in the first place.

What makes the Isle of Man financially compelling for online gambling companies?

Corporate and capital gains tax are zero per cent. We also have a series of support grants to help companies relocate staff with relocation incentives and assistance in setting up offices.

We’ve got a welcoming government – the beauty of a small and agile jurisdiction is that you get the chance to sit down and have a conversation. On the Isle of Man, you can have meetings with the government, regulator, ministers. It’s very interactive and is a big part of the Island’s appeal. It’s a true community.

What initiatives and commitments have been made to attract premium blockchain businesses and the world’s top exchanges to the Island?

We have made companies aware that we are a crypto and blockchain friendly island with several exchanges already launching on the island in the last four years. We’re an attractive jurisdiction because we have regulated cryptocurrencies for online casinos.

Our regulators are experienced and trusted and the GSC understand the potential impacts of adapting licensing requirements and are always prepared to look at new products.

We don’t know what the next game types or innovations are going to be in the future, but our licence covers all types of gaming products without needing separate licenses for each product.

The Isle of Man was one of the first to issue an esports betting licence back in 2017. How is the Island continuing to raise its profile as an authentic esports destination?

We have since had several esports betting companies licensed by the GSC since issuing the esports betting licence. Digital Isle of Man have recently hired two esports executives, Liam and Josh, who are responsible for driving forward the esports strategy and proposition within the Isle of Man.

We have a big esports focus going forwards as shown by the Government’s sponsorship of the Island’s first professional esports organisation, X7. We are setting up a protected environment where esports can flourish.

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