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Jewel Bank still optimistic about digital future

In limbo: Jewel Bank, with offices on Victoria Street in Hamilton, is still not operational in Bermuda (File photograph)

A key piece to the government’s fintech future for Bermuda remains in limbo nearly two years on, leaving a local banking solution for the growing number of fintech companies on the island unfulfilled.

Licensed in June 2022, Jewel Bank has not yet been able to secure all regulatory approvals to ramp up operations or staff, and realise the potential of a full banking licence and Class F digital asset business licence from the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

Originally hoping to be operational by September 2022, bank chairman, Chance Barnett, still remains optimistic.

In response to questions from The Royal Gazette, he declared: “We are not closing the company and we are working through our plans in this post-licence period towards regulatory approval to open the bank in the future.”

We asked Mr Barnett about rumours that staff were being laid-off. He responded: “As with most early-stage ventures, the prior year brought changes and new challenges in the market.

“We have needed to take a leaner approach in this interim pre-operations and pre-revenue period to continue to complete key milestones towards launching the bank, and we care greatly about those impacted by the changes required.”

David Burt, the Premier and the Minister of Finance, congratulated Jewel Bank shortly after its licensing, hailing it as a milestone for Bermuda’s fintech industry.

He saw it as “a concrete boost for Bermuda’s growing fintech industry by providing core banking, digital asset custody, traditional and crypto-collateralised lending, fiat currency on/off ramps and stablecoin issuance/redemptions.”

He added: “Though these are technical words that will not mean much to most citizens, this is a sea change for Bermuda and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Jewel Bank was Bermuda's first new bank in more than 20 years and first digital asset bank with a primary focus of serving the needs of non-US domiciled or licensed firms.

The principals also had a plan to offer domestic banking services, but saw its role as a key part of Bermuda’s digital transformation.

Six months after its licensing, Jewel joined with blockchain development ecosystem, Polygon, to issue its Jewel USD stablecoin, with plans to expand stablecoin-based payments to include institutional, business and individual payments through Polygon’s system in the future.

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Published May 20, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 18, 2024 at 8:39 pm)

Jewel Bank still optimistic about digital future

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