House passes fintech Bill
The House of Assembly passed fintech legislation last night, despite reservations from the Opposition.
The Companies and Limited Liability Company (Initial Coin Offering) Act is expected to create a regulatory framework for digital coin offerings on the island.
David Burt, the Premier, said the legislation would help to build the fintech industry on the island and build economic diversity.
Mr Burt said: “With this Bill, this government has chosen to be bold and take a significant step in the world stage.”
He said the intention of the Bill would be to build the island’s economy, adding that the island has already seen significant interest.
Only an hour previously, Mr Burt had announced the island had signed a memorandum of understanding with global cryptocurrency trader Binance.
Speaking to the House, Mr Burt said he hoped to have another MOU signed before the end of the day, saying a representative from Medici Ventures was present and watching the debate.
Mr Burt said: “Our intention is to bring more business, more jobs, better career opportunities and more income to Bermudians.
“We are poised for economic growth, and our intention is to deliver that to the people of Bermuda.”
Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, said the island’s reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction will make Bermuda an ideal location.
He said: “The reason the world is becoming so energised about being in Bermuda is not blockchain. They are excited because we do things to a very high standard.
“We are not fool hardy. We understand the primary function of this endeavour is make sure its well regulated.”
“The elements are in place to protect the country.”
Mr Caines added: “I believe when this legislation is passed this country will sit back. They will see the jobs come in and they will see they have done something right.”
However, Grant Gibbons, Shadow Minister of Economic Development, said the One Bermuda Alliance had some concerns about the details, saying an economic impact assessment would have been useful.
Dr Gibbons said ICOs are often highly speculative and “very risky” for investors, and Bermuda’s reputation could be damaged if the right safeguards are not in place.
He said: “We are getting into an area that can be very risky for people getting in to it.
“A lot of regulators have taken a pretty strong approach to this.”
Dr Gibbons suggested the Government may have moved too quickly to strike the right balance as six pages of changes to the tabled legislation had been put forward.
PLP backbencher Michael Scott said that the nature of fintech meant the bill “would require amendments even five minutes after we’ve passed it”.
Mr Scott added: “I am not concerned that amendments are a lack of preparation.”
“The Bill is fit for purpose.”
Leah Scott, Deputy Opposition Leader, said that Bermuda’s economic diversification was vital.
Ms Scott explained: “Our insurance industry is shrinking, companies are merging, people are loosing jobs.
“We do need another area of revenue.”
However, Ms Scott said she was “not happy” with “embedding legislation within existing legislation”.
She said: “I do think this legislation is important enough to stand on its own.”
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin agreed with Ms Scott.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “What would have been ideal, given that this was an intent from day one of the new administration, they could have started working on this from day one.”
Mr Burt said the Bill was the “first step of a number to come” and that the Government would “protect the economy we have”.
He added: “This government will lead on this initiative, this government will make sure that Bermuda is ready for the future.”
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