Rock on, Gibraltar: Pro-crypto regulation pulls Binance and big players

Gibraltar’s 6.8km2 territory houses 35,000 people and several large international crypto companies. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, ruled by the United Kingdom and an important gateway to Europe, is an attractive jurisdiction for distributed ledger technologies (DLT) or simply crypto.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, is now hiring for four roles in the “Rock of Gibraltar,” up from two roles one week ago. CZ, CEO of Binance, met with Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo in December 2021 after it was revealed that Picardo had the Binance app on his laptop:

Reportedly, CZ visited ‘The Rock’ in 2022, and Binance Gibraltar job openings have since popped up on the exchange’s website. Cointelegraph approached Binance to query when the Gibraltar office would open. A spokesperson from Binance, which has no official headquarters internationally, told Cointelegraph that the group “is a remote-first organization with many of our employees working remotely.”

“Binance will be establishing multiple regional offices. France and Dubai will be our offices in the Europe and Middle East regions, respectively.”

The group did not respond to the question of whether the group would establish a physical presence in Gibraltar. However, Binance would be in good company in the increasingly pro-crypto British Overseas Territory.

Bitso and Huobi established their European operations from Gibraltar; Damex has a physical presence and countless advertising boards around the city and Tap.Global has offices on the main street. The government is certainly crypto friendly. The Member of Parliament for Digital and Financial Services, Albert Isola, told Cointelegraph that he’s a HODLer:

Joey García, the Head of Public Affairs for Bitcoin-first Xapo Bank, a fully regulated bank based in Gibraltar, told Cointelegraph that Gibraltar is “nimble” and an ideal territory for adopting new technologies:

“Small jurisdictions can move faster. We’ve seen it again and again [in Gibraltar], whether it’s crowdfunding or new areas of development. Xapo, for example, got their e-money license in Gibraltar in 2017.”

Xapo Bank CEO Wences Casares is known as “patient zero” in the Bitcoin (BTC) world. The Argentian businessperson reportedly advocated for Bitcoin among tech execs in Silicon Valley. Quartz reported that Casares attempted to orange-pill Bill Gates, while Bloomberg reported that Xapo custodied over $10 billion Bitcoin in its vaults.

The Xapo vaults are now located in Grand Casemates Square, Gibraltar’s tourism hotspot. Millions of cruise ship day trippers stroll past the historic walls that form Xapo’s walls. Anouska Streets told Cointelegraph that “There’s a tension and juxtaposition between the old banking work and the new crypto landscape; to be that bridge between old and new.” Commenting on Gibraltar as a jurisdiction, she explained:

“As a jurisdiction, it’s awesome – the regulators are open and helpful in terms of how to develop – not just Bitcoin but other crypto capabilities. It’s what it stands for: for years.”

On regulation, Minister Isola also chimed in. He explained that “the regulation has got to be an enabler, a business, not a stopper. So in my view, pragmatic and practical regulation helps the business.”

Indeed, businesses have since started running with Bitcoin. Major retail chains including Costa Coffee now accept Bitcoin in Gibraltar. Neil Walker, managing director at Sandpiper GI — the group managing the retail franchises — told Cointelegraph that Bitcoin and in particular the lightning network can make things “more frictionless.”

“In today’s world, people should be able to move quickly and easily between currencies with next to zero fees and the lightning network could enable that, whether it’s potential for cross-border workers in Gibraltar or for visitors who are coming to Gibraltar to spend their money. And in our stores.”

Obi Nwosu, CEO of Fedi and a board member of BTrust–the initiative founded by Jack Dorsey and Jay Z–commented Gibraltar has always been a fast-mover.

“I’m not surprised people on the ground are trialing Bitcoin; that merchants on the ground are more interested in accepting Bitcoin.”

Molly Spiers, marketing head at CoinCorner, explained that Bitcoin adoption in British Overseas Territories is flying. “Gibraltar is hot on the heels of the Isle of Man. There are currently 7 stores in Gibraltar now accepting Bitcoin – including big names like Costa Coffee, Hotel Chocolat and Card Factory – and we have about another 20 potentially interested.”

Related: Huobi gets green light as exchange provider in Australia

As for Minister Isola, when prompted on whether Gibraltar should mimic some of the Isle of Man’s success with Bitcoin adoption, he explained: “I’ve always said that if somebody has a piece in their legislation that is better than ours, I wouldn’t hesitate to adopt it. At the end of the day, we’re looking for the most effective, enabling, an innovative regulatory framework that we can find.”

As a result, not only can crypto operators meet, network and rub shoulders with regulators on the tiny patch of land, but the territory is quick to respond to market moves.

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