Crypto Funds in Gibraltar are booming - Interview with Minister Albert Isola
We are pleased to speak with The Hon. Albert Isola - Minister for Digital, Financial Services and Public Utilities in Gibraltar. He has been the key figure behind Gibraltar’s growth as a crypto hub and a global leader in blockchain regulation.
About Sigil Fund
Sigil Fund was established in 2018 shortly after Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) legislation in Gibraltar was introduced. We’ve chosen Gibraltar due to the decades of experience in financial services and quality of local suppliers, but also to benefit from the stable and regulated environment for crypto funds.
Following the recent upgrade of Sigil fund to an EIF, we have asked Minister Isola a few questions about crypto funds and the regulatory landscape from Gibraltar’s point of view.
Regulation of the crypto industry in Gibraltar
Sigil Fund: In 2018 Gibraltar became one of the first jurisdictions to regulate distributed ledger technology providers. 3 years later, what has been accomplished?
Albert Isola: We set out several key objectives at the start of this journey. I look back, briefly, with some pride as the value created for our community has arisen mainly because of the ability of the Regulator, the private sector and Government to work closely together with common goals and shared values. These include but are not limited to the following:
- We wanted to attract quality operators and the list of firms that hold a license from the GFSC is a testament to that.
- We wanted to provide regulatory certainty to firms that made Gibraltar their regulatory home and are recognised as having achieved that primarily by the firms themselves.
- Protection of the reputation of the jurisdiction and of the consumer is of paramount importance to us and we work daily to ensure this.
- Create and evolve an innovative, market leading regulatory framework that could evolve dynamically in line with the fast-changing industry that it regulates. It was also important that it supported the work and vision of the many talented entrepreneurs active in this industry.
Minister Albert Isola
Sigil Fund: How popular are crypto funds in Gibraltar?
Albert Isola: This industry is in the early stages of what we expect to be transformational and long-lasting change. We also see different areas accelerating the pace of change to a greater degree than others. I believe that crypto funds have an important part to play in providing investors with greater choice and we expect that adoption will mean strong growth in this area. PwC global survey on crypto funds just identified Gibraltar as the 3rd biggest jurisdiction in the world and the leading 1st European jurisdiction in the number of crypto funds.
Sigil Fund: Gibraltar has recently left the EU. What does this mean for the crypto funds in Gibraltar?
Albert Isola: We are yet to see the full extent of how BREXIT will impact in this area. As you will be aware discussions are ongoing on how the future relationship with the EU will take shape. What I am very pleased with, and certain of, is the agreement to maintain access to the UK market in financial services achieved at a very early stage of our discussions with the UK Government. This agreement is unique. The UK has always been our biggest market and in and off itself is one of the major and most influential financial services centres globally.
Sigil Fund: Sigil Fund is relocating more people from their management team to Gibraltar. Are other companies following the trend? What are the benefits?
Albert Isola: I am very pleased to hear that Gibraltar will be home to more of the team. There are several benefits for our community in welcoming external talent to Gibraltar. If I leave aside the more obvious financial factors, the continued expansion of the technology talent pool is seen as key if Gibraltar is to continue to develop and show leadership in this space.
Sigil Fund: How does Gibraltar promote blockchain education?
Albert Isola: We established the New Technologies in Education working group (NTiE) in October 2018. This is composed of private sector firms, Department of Education, University of Gibraltar, the Gibraltar Association for New Technologies (GANT) and Gibraltar Finance. They are looking at all aspects of raising the education capabilities across the board and have even delivered a University course on blockchain and smart contracts. Education is necessary to equip our future generations with the skill sets that they require.
Sigil Fund: What are the key regulatory challenges crypto companies are facing these days?
Albert Isola: Undoubtedly the lack of clear regulation from many leading industrialised countries acts to slow down development. Accelerated and safe adoption is, in my opinion, the way forward. We are seeing signs of this with MiCA, the FCA registration scheme etc but much more needs to be done.
Sigil Fund: What's your outlook on the future of the crypto industry?
Albert Isola: I am very bullish. We took a long time to consider our position in this space and when we launched the DLTRF (“Distributed Ledger Technology Regulated Framework”) in January 2018 we had discussed and debated at length for some considerable time. We did this because we knew that to create a new and successful business for Gibraltar required a long-term view and steadfast commitment to ensure that what we built would be long lasting and sustainable.
Sigil Fund: Lastly, what’s your target price for Bitcoin in 2021?
Albert Isola: Having opened my comments with some key considerations not least creating “certainty” we are not in the game of speculating. I do believe that a successful bitcoin is an important part of the ecosystem so we support that and prefer to let the market decide where the price should be.
Sigil Fund: Thank you for this interview and the valuable insights.
To learn more about Sigil Fund, check out our investment strategies.