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‘Historic’ signing of virtual currency deal

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David Burt signs a memorandum of understanding with Zhao Changpeng, CEO of Binance (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Premier hailed a “historic” day for the island as he signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with global cryptocurrency trader Binance.

David Burt signed the MOU with Zhao Changpeng, the chief executive of “the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange”.

Mr Burt said: “This government promised to usher in an era of business development that, at its core, would diversify the Bermuda economy.

Mr Burt said Binance plans to “develop a global compliance base here in Bermuda” that would create 40 jobs, at least 30 of them Bermudian.

Binance will spend up to $10 million on training for Bermudians in blockchain technology development.

The trading company will also make up to $5 million available for investment in new Bermudian blockchain business.

Mr Burt said the deal was “a vote of confidence in Bermuda and the leadership of this government”.

The announcement came as MPs prepared to return to Parliament to debate the Companies and Limited Liability Company (Initial Coin Offering) Amendment Act 2018.

The Bill was designed to create a regulatory framework for digital currency business based on the island.

Mr Zhao said that Binance’s research had shown that Bermuda was becoming “one of the leading regulatory bodies for virtual currency”.

He added: “We think the Bermuda Government and regulatory body are one of the most approachable, reasonable and forward-thinking on the planet.”

Mr Burt’s full statement follows:

“The pace of technological innovation moves in today’s world has challenged established norms of doing business. The new normal demands that those who would participate in this evolving space are equally as innovative, flexible and immediately responsive to the requirements of doing business.

“This government promised to usher in an era of business development that, at its core, would diversify Bermuda’s economy and provide opportunities for Bermudians to be more than spectators to economic success.

“A key element of our vision is to partner with those investors who share our goal of using the development of their business interests as a means by which to provide that economic success to Bermudians who have for too long been sidelined.

“Today, I am pleased to announce such a partnership. The Binance Group is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and an international leader in digital exchange development and fintech, with a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion. Through the Binance Charity Foundation, the Group is committed to improving education, creating awareness in the development through the use of blockchain technology. Binance Labs are incubators to encourage greater innovation and scope for future investment in a variety of projects.

“Binance has decided that their goals align with our aims and objectives to provide a leading, well regulated jurisdiction, ideally suited to the growth of the fintech industry. And so today, we are pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding that sets out the beginnings of a partnership that I am confident will benefit the people of Bermuda. Through this partnership Binance proposes to:

• Develop its global compliance base in Bermuda, creating at least 40 jobs in Bermuda, with at least 30 jobs for Bermudians;

• Through the Binance Foundation sponsor university-level training for Bermudians in blockchain technology development and compliance in an amount up to $10 million;

• Through Binance Labs make up to $5 million available for investments in new Bermudian-based blockchain companies;

• As soon as practicable, develop a Digital Asset Exchange in Bermuda subject to all required legal and regulatory processes;

• Work collaboratively with the Government of Bermuda and all necessary oversight agencies in the development and improvement of a robust legal and regulatory framework.

“This is an exciting, tangible development which has come as a result of this government’s clearly manifested leadership in this area. In every meeting we make clear to potential investors that we have a reputation for sound regulation and that our approach in this new area will be no different. Binance have been equally as clear that they want to work with us to promote that transparent and well-regulated environment as their business’s success depends on these very same factors that have served Bermuda so well.

“I am pleased to be joined by Zhao Changpeng, the CEO of Binance and He Ying, the co-founder of Binance and I wish to thank them and their team for their vote of confidence in Bermuda and in the leadership of this government as we continue our aim to bring economic development to Bermuda and to make Bermuda the centre for the future of the blockchain world.”