We have been asked by small and medium sized businesses and friends alike to make a list of countries which are kind of supportive towards digital currencies. However, we had a lot of work and other business to tend to first, so we thought that now would be an ideal time to start these objective articles.
We chose to kick off this special series with the Isle of Man because their government has a clear policy concerning digital currencies. Most people outside Europe are asking themselves: Where is this Isle of Man situated? Is it near France or is it one of the Channel Islands? The Isle of Man is situated in the North Sea, nestled between: Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the UK. It has been a haven for online gambling companies for a couple of years now.
However, The Isle of Man is always looking toward the future like any open minded country should. There has been quite a storm about the Isle of Man’s decision to become “pro digital currency”. Some have condemned this choice, while others applaud the innovative aspect and calling this step a “historical” one for digital currencies and Bitcoin in particular.
To celebrate and utilize this great achievement, and to have the best reach and media coverage possible, the Isle of Man sent out some representatives to some high end (and exclusive) Bitcoin and digital currency congresses from September 2014 onwards. For example, the Inside Bitcoins London conference, or the “Crypto Valley Summit” which was held in the Isle of Man.
Now let’s take a closer look at what is being said by the officials of the Isle of Man. “The Isle of Man intends to take specific actions aimed at helping protect businesses and customers utilising digital currencies”. So yes the Isle of Man has reasons to focus in on protection of business and customers.
There are many examples out there that show us that some protection methods should be implemented. We believe, and this is partly confirmed by unofficial channels, that the Isle of Man is looking into some kind of “regulation” concerning exchanges.
Nevertheless, this is still unconfirmed and “they are looking into the matter” and according to some sources they are planning to “have some kind of dialog with the crypto currency community”. Naturally, the Isle of Man wants to play by the book and that is a good thing. However, there is nothing concrete or official on the subject of regulation.
· Laws & commissions.
Just looking at said statements, everyone can see that this isn’t saying much at all. This is all quite vague and based on rumours that are unconfirmed, but which are interesting prospects nonetheless. Now what do we know fact-wise that can be traced back into laws and certainties?
First what you need to know is that the Isle of Man is following the anti-laundering laws. These laws can be found in laws like: proceeds of crime act 2008, the designated business (registration and oversight) bill 2013 and the Financial Supervision Commission.
If you are contemplating on opening up shop in the Isle of Man, for digital currency or otherwise, you really need to read these articles, laws and the aforementioned website of the FSC. These documents and laws will be the guideline for your business and will stipulate what rules, if any, you and your company need to abide by.
So what do you need to create a digital currency business in the Isle of Man? The first thing you need to do is that you need to register your business with the Financial Supervision Commission. This is necessary for every company, even if they are not focussed in on the digital currency. Now if you are thinking about setting up a digital currency exchange, you have to register as “designated Business”. This is done for anti-money laundering purposes and is noted under the proposed Designated Business law, under the section registration and oversight.
To be successful in your registration of your business you have to comply with the minimum standards of anti-money laundering practice will be expected and required by such businesses. As such you also need to comply with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2008 and also the Terrorism Finance Act 2009. The terrorism finance act of 2009 might seem a bit excessive, but digital currency is semi or in some cases nearly fully anonymous, anyone can use the digital currency for terrorism.
Furthermore it isn’t as easy as going to the Isle of Man with a load of cash or Bitcoin proclaiming that you want to start up a business. Once your registration is granted and your business is running, the FSC will be responsible for monitoring the business’s compliance with the law. On certain dates there will be visits to your company as well as detailed inspections of registered businesses files.
Here are some other examples:
1. Certified identification documents will need to be obtained from clients. This will be needed for transactions above a certain threshold value.
2. Certain staff will require regular anti-money laundering training so they are equipped to recognise hallmarks of suspicious activity and understand the steps required of them if they form a suspicion of money laundering.
3. Source of funds / source of wealth information will be required from clients.
4. Experienced Money Laundering Reporting and Compliance officers will need to be appointed by your business.
This is our second article in the series of “pro digital currency countries”. In the first article we saw that Belgium has a positive stance towards digital currency. In this article we shone a light on the Isle of Man and their stance on Bitcoin and digital currency. Both countries view digital currencies as VAT free entities.
However we see that the Isle of Man has a much better position than Belgium, from a legal perspective. The Isle of Man has finetuned the laws concerning what is and what isn’t allowed and spells them out quite clearly. Of course, this will take time to read through and sometimes the terminology can be quite difficult to understand and may seem confusing for novices. Nevertheless, the government and legal consultancy firms are happy to answer your questions.
This kind of well documented and legalized way of doing things is a step in the right direction in our opinion. In creating laws and weaving digital currency in with them will create a more stable environment for both customer and business alike. It is a step in the right direction.
We also like the dialog that the government is having with the digital currency businesses and community. This will ensure that fair and honest laws will be created in the future, which will benefit all parties involved. The government has the tools to intervene when something goes awry and the businesses have a clear net of protections of rights and duties that they need to follow. The community itself will be better protected and can grow