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Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Two

Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Two

This is part two of a three-part series of articles about the state of blockchain/distributed ledger technology (DLT) in Europe. The series covers the blockchain scene in some of the most important European nations. I would like to thank PR firm Wachsman for sharing with me the facts & figures and the commentaries present in this series. Part one may be read here.

European British overseas territory Gibraltar and the country of the Republic of Ireland both have a flourishing blockchain space. Below, we’ll be taking a look at their DLT sectors.

Gibraltar

Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Two

Europort Avenue, Gibraltar. Just across the road from Morrisons (2009). The Gibraltar Stock Exchange is located at Suite 741A
Europort, GSX11 1AA.

To regulate its blockchain sector, Gibraltar has employed a principles-based approach that is built around a core framework of nine principles. The British territory, which has almost complete internal self-governance through a parliament, also offers enough flexibility for DLT projects to succeed. The value-based, industry-informed framework of Gibraltar exemplifies vision and drive functioning autonomously, in which watchdogs and firms work together to deal with sector inefficiencies, fast-track extended processes and enhance citizens’ lives.

Main initiatives of the government of Gibraltar include the introduction of a custom-made blockchain framework in January 2018 and the formation of the New Technologies in Education (NTiE) group. With the framework’s introduction, Gibraltar became the world’s first jurisdiction to introduce such a system. The NTiE group, which signifies a team effort between the government of Gibraltar, the University of Gibraltar and some of the top new technology corporations based in the jurisdiction, is aimed at developing new technology-related education courses about DLT.

Gibraltar Minister for Commerce Hon. Albert Isola M.P. stated, “As the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce a purpose built Distributed-Ledger-Technology (DLT) framework in January 2018, Gibraltar has become home to a wide range of quality blockchain projects that want to be recognised as a licensed provider of DLT. Gibraltar’s supportive business environment and thriving blockchain community are two of the hallmarks of success for our wider economy.”

He added, “As a jurisdiction, we have always prioritised educational development alongside regulatory advances. The launch of the New Technologies in Education (NTiE) group, represents a joint effort between the Gibraltar Government, the University of Gibraltar along with some of the leading new technology companies based in Gibraltar. The NTiE group is geared towards creating new technology-related education courses around blockchain, giving students the chance to broaden their knowledge of the intricate workings of blockchain applications.”

GSX (Gibraltar Stock Exchange) Group Limited founder and managing director Nick Cowan commented, “As a long time advocate for the incorporation of new technologies in financial services, I became convinced of blockchain’s potential to build a new exchange model fit for a new generation of traders and investors. However, the creation of a stable, supportive regulatory environment was always central to this aspiration. The purpose-built legislative framework for businesses that use blockchain or Distributed-Ledger-Technology (DLT) here in Gibraltar has been pivotal in the success of our Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), which received its DLT license from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) in November 2018. Strong engagement between businesses and regulators has helped direct the formation of regulation that provides flexibility for guidelines to evolve alongside the blockchain sector. The DLT regulatory framework continues to provide a road to market for quality projects using DLT.”

Ireland

The 12.5% corporation tax of Ireland has made it an attractive place for some of the biggest tech corporations in the world, including Apple, Google, Airbnb, LinkedIn and Twitter, who all have their EMEA headquarters located in the country. As a nation with a population of just under 5 million, Ireland has shown that it is able to punch above its weight and seal its place as a worldwide technology powerhouse. The country also hosts some of the most pioneering blockchain startups including multi-award-winning AID:Tech, which revolutionizes how governments, corporates and NGOs provide digital entitlements all over the globe.

The Irish department of finance’s Mai Santamaria said, “Ireland has positioned itself as a leading destination for tech enterprise and research, and has the potential to be a centre of excellence for blockchain and distributed ledger technology. In addition to the growing number of companies using the technology here, the Government has taken several steps to encourage innovation in this sector. Some highlights include, the creation of a €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund; recently hosting a blockchain hackathon to identify public services business problems that can be solved using blockchain technology; and the founding of BlockchainIreland, a combined effort of Government and Irish-based companies, led by the IDA’s Blockchain Expert Group, to help promote and share information on blockchain in Ireland. Blockchain technologies have the potential to create great economic, social, and technological value and, where possible, Ireland aims to capitalise on this potential.”

The third & final part of this series will review the blockchain scenario in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Image credit – Paul  (Source)  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

This is the final part of a three-part series of articles about the state of blockchain in Europe. The series covers the blockchain scene in some of the most important European nations. I would like to thank PR firm Wachsman for sharing with me the facts & figures and the commentaries present in this series. Part one may be read here and part two, here.

The Netherlands and Switzerland are the remaining two European countries whose blockchain spaces will be reviewed in this third & final part.

The Netherlands

It will not be incorrect to say that the Netherlands is on the rise on the global blockchain scene. This European nation recently hosted the Odyssey Hackathon, the biggest blockchain and AI hackathon in the world. The event was supported by the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, the European Union Regional Development Fund, De Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch Central Bank), KLM and Deloitte. With 1,500 people in attendance, it saw 100 teams compete for €200,000. The Special Envoy of Startup Delta, Prince Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau, also supported the hackathon.

The Netherlands is home to 135 blockchain startups.

Switzerland

Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

Night view of the Swiss canton of Zug and its lake. Crypto Valley Association, an autonomous, government-backed alliance founded to leverage Switzerland’s strengths to create the world’s foremost blockchain and cryptographic ecosystem, is based in Zug.

The presence of state-of-the-art centers and knowledge hubs like Crypto Valley, which hosts 20% of the worldwide blockchain market; flexible regulatory bodies and the government’s strong encouragement have all enabled Switzerland to thrive as a leading hub for blockchain revolution. Switzerland is also the ICO capital of Europe, where firms raised $456 million in 2018, and $1.46 billion in 2017. Startups in this European nation received nearly 1.24 billion francs (almost $1.25 billion) of venture capital in 2018, about 32% more than the year before.

As for the number of DLT startups operating in Switzerland, there are 712 of them (out of 750 companies in the Crypto Valley) as of Q1 2019. Demonstrating the breadth of firms in the Swiss blockchain cluster is the startup Utopia Music, which is a new entrant into the Crypto Valley top 50 and the only media and entertainment firm to do so.

Switzerland also hosts four Unicorn startups (firms already worth billions). These startups include Dfinity, Cardano, Bitmain and Ethereum.

Crypto Valley Association president Daniel Haudenschild said, “At the heart of the blockchain movement, the Crypto Valley Association has been central to creating Switzerland’s leading position as a pioneer in cryptocurrency and blockchain. The valley is home to some of the most innovative and influential blockchain companies in the world, only made possible by the friendly regulatory environment, secure and predictable legal framework, world-class infrastructure, talent pool, sound policies and economic strength here in Switzerland.”

Armin Schmid, CEO of Swiss Crypto Tokens, part of the Bitcoin Suisse Group, stated, “At Swiss Crypto Tokens, we consider ourselves very fortunate to call Switzerland home. The Government here has always shown great encouragement of the blockchain community and this has undoubtedly been a huge part of our success in positioning Switzerland as the ‘Crypto Nation’. In addition, given how developed and influential the Swiss financial sector is — managing around 27.5% of all global cross-border assets — Switzerland is an ideal environment with a stable economy and currency for liquidity-providing instruments such as the CryptoFranc, our Swiss-Franc pegged stablecoin.”

End of Series

Image credit – Mensi  (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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