Blockchain and crypto currency dominated business calendars this week as New Providence plays host to several conferences dedicated to the innovative financial products.
Yesterday, the Central Bank of the Bahamas hosted a half-day blockchain seminar where industry leaders in the field collaborated to educate their audience on the significance of the digital ledger for economic transactions.
But the real draw this week is Polycon18 – the world’s first crypto event dedicated to securities tokens. Hosted at Baha Mar, the oversubscribed event brings together the worlds of high finance and blockchain and has lured dozens of global leaders in the field to The Bahamas.
Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Kwasi Thompson, welcomed participants to the event saying that while tourism is the primary driver of the Bahamian economy, the country is very interested in the diversification particularly when it comes to the tech industry.
“Our government has set out to establish The Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama as the Technology Hub of the region and we expect blockchain and crypto currency will be a major part of our initiative,” said Thompson. “Participants should also note that The Bahamas is currently finalizing programs for blockchain-based solutions, fin-tech and crypto-currency companies and intend to promote blockchain as a sub-industry within ICT.”
The brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto, blockchain technology was originally developed as a means to harness the potential for the digital currency known a Bitcoin. The digital ledger has more than proven its worth since driving Bitcoin to a now near US$9 billion entity since its formal introduction to the world in 2008. Now the value of the application has been realised and blockchain is now being considered and, in some cases, ustilised as a multi-purpose platform beyond just monitoring crypto currency but as a tool for financial services across the board.
Organized by Untraceable, Polycon18 is hosted by Polymath and Grit Capital and is complemented with an impressive list of presenters including, Overstock.com CEO Patrick M. Byrne, Ethereum co-Founder Anthony Di Iorio and investor Bill Tai.
Thompson encouraged participants of the event to visit Grand Bahama before leaving the country and experience what the island has to offer with regard to setting up businesses.
“Grand Bahama, specifically has for decades been known for successes in industry, but we are embarking on a new era,” said Thompson. “Now, Grand Bahama will be the place where industry meets technology. Freeport, Grand Bahama has great promise as a digital center. Our nation’s second city has superb communications infrastructure with two major ISPs with independent terrestrial, subterranean, sub-sea and wireless networks.
“The city also boasts diverse network paths, self-healing metro, inter-island and international networks. Freeport is one of the most unique areas of the entire Bahamas, being that it is managed by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, a free trade zone. That enjoys the benefits of a tax neutral jurisdiction with no capital gains, no real property and no corporate income tax.”
Thompson said that, thanks to the new Commercial Enterprise Act, companies in the fin tech industry will be fast tracked in order to have them set up in the country.
“We remain open to tailor-making packages specific to a company’s needs, allowing them to retain their talent without increasing cost,” he said. “The government is focused on encouraging Bahamian and international entrepreneurs as well as existing international companies to embrace the Bahamas, specifically Grand Bahama as the ideal place to start and/or grow a technology business.
“We are actively working to facilitate the establishment Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and FinTech enterprises, which we anticipate will transform financial services in the Bahamas and continue to do so globally.”
Thompson encouraged his audience to experience what The Bahamas has to offer and to remember that, “if you set up your business here you get to live here.”