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Crypto will 'fundamentally transform human interaction,' says premier of Bermuda

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Premier David Burt, the leader of Bermuda. Photo: Bermudan Government

Bermuda is vying to become an international hot-spot for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, according to the country’s head of government.

“We made a strategic decision that Bermuda was going to try to make sure that we could be a regulated jurisdiction for the future of financial services, based on the decentralized and distributed economy,” premier David Burt told Yahoo Finance UK at the Consensus conference in New York last week.

“We want to be that place that’s going to solve problems and where companies can come to solve problems for the world.”

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Cryptocurrencies entered the mainstream after the creation of bitcoin in 2009, which is underpinned by a distributed database technology called blockchain. Proponents argue that blockchain could transform everything from land ownership and voting to the way financial services works.

“The exposure of which I’ve had, the conversations and discussions I’ve had, and the reason why my government is so committed is because I absolutely, without question believe that it will fundamentally transform human interaction,” Burt said. “Without question.”

Making the British territory a hotspot for the emerging sector has been a priority for Burt since he was elected in 2017. Bermuda’s youngest ever leader, he has a master’s degree in information technology and told Yahoo Finance UK he was convinced that crypto would be transformative.

“The fact that you can record anything, incentivise things, cut out middle men, do things with trust — it will literally transform the way the world works,” Burt said.

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The premier was visiting Consensus, one of North America’s largest crypto and blockchain technologies conferences, to meet with companies and discuss how Bermuda can become a global hub for the emerging industry.

“I am a crypto purist in so far as I believe the decentralized economy will happen and it will have major changes,” Burt said. “I want my country to be ready for those changes.”

Last year Bermuda put in place laws governing the issuing of digital assets, one of the first countries to do so. Other nations and territories that have embraced cryptocurrency include Malta and Gibraltar.

Burt said that Bermuda’s proximity to the United States and its regulatory equivalence with the US and the EU set the country apart.

“The fact of the matter is we’re 90 minutes away from New York City,” he said. “That’s not the same that could be said for Malta.

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“Bermuda, from its regulatory perspective, stands in a class amongst itself. There’s only two countries in the world that have regulatory equivalence in risk with both the United States and the European Union, and that’s Switzerland and Bermuda. From that perspective, we consider ourselves a very high-quality jurisdiction and we want to maintain that.”

Seventy-nine companies are currently going through Bermuda’s licensing process and Burt said the country is “a quality jurisdiction not a quantity jurisdiction.”

“There are persons who have come to our jurisdiction and do not like the scrutiny they get — that’s fine,” the premier said. “We know our worth and our value.”

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Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at@OscarWGrut.

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