Thursday, March 14, 2019
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
REGULATIONS governing crypto assets and related instruments must be “entrepreneur friendly”, a local industry advocate urged yesterday, saying: “We have a unique opportunity before us.”
Wayne Johnson, a corporate manager for the Zucaz Group, told Tribune Business: “Even though we are going to have a regulatory regime we need to ensure that we provide entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians to bring initial coin offerings (ICO), for instance.
“A lot of Bahamians are involved in the token economy. We need to drive innovation and creativity in this space, and allow Bahamians who are innovative and have global connections to participate. It shouldn’t be that you need $500,000 or $1m to participate. We have a real opportunity before us here. Just look at what Barbados, Cayman and Bermuda are doing. We just need to have the right legislation and promote entrepreneurial opportunities. The legislation has to be entrepreneur friendly.”
Mr Johnson’s spoke out after K Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister, this week revealed that legislation to govern the cryptocurrency industry in The Bahamas is being drafted through the Securities Commission and should be available for public consultation shortly.
“The whole issue around crypto currencies and assets is a very dynamic and moving initiative,” said Mr Turnquest. “There is legislation being drafted through the Securities Commission, and we hope to have the first draft for public consultation very shortly, once it’s been presented to Cabinet and approved. Hopefully we will have the framework around that in short order.”
He added that cryptocurrency exchanges and companies operating within this space have expressed interest in setting up operations in The Bahamas, and said: “We want to make sure we have the right regulatory environment set so we don’t end up with disastrous situations where we have shysters or con men taking advantage of a lax regulatory environment.”
The Central Bank of The Bahamas, responding to a rash of companies promoting initial coin offerings (ICOs) and crypto/Blockchain solutions, last year moved to warn Bahamians of the risk involved in investing in a still-evolving industry.
“The Central Bank of The Bahamas wishes to advise the public that no licence has been granted to cryptocurrency operators by the bank or any other financial regulator to offer digital currency, or to provide such services such as cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto loans or crypto and fiat processing in or from within The Bahamas,” the Central Bank warned.
“Persons investing in such products and services do so at their own risk.” The Central Bank added that crypto/digital currencies were not legal tender in The Bahamas, are not issued or backed by it, and are not legal foreign currency either.
“The Central Bank does not regulate or supervise virtual currencies, nor has the bank authorised any entity to operate a virtual currency platform,” the Central Bank reiterated. “The public is further advised to seek professional advice with respect to matters regarding savings and investments from legitimate and licenced financial institutions.”