The history of blockchain-related projects and cryptocurrency regulation in Gibraltar begins in 2014 with the creation of the Cryptocurrency Working Group (CWG), an initiative aimed at exploring the emerging industry and developing regulatory proposals.
The public discussion that lasted for several years resulted in a bill introduced by the Government of Gibraltar in the fall of 2018. Financial Services (Distributed Ledger Technology Providers) Regulations 2017 is a special regulatory framework for enterprises using blockchain for value storage and transfer. The Parliament passed the bill in December 2017.
Gibraltar is among the top 10 countries in terms of funds collected through ICOs in 2018, ranking ninth. Moreover, Gibraltar ranks 11th in terms of funds collected over the entire period.
The adoption of a special legislation for blockchain companies has turned Gibraltar into an attractive jurisdiction. Crypto exchanges, including Huobi, GBX, Coinfloor, Etorox, Covesting, obtain DLT Provider's licences. The general tax regime also boosts the popularity of Gibraltar as a jurisdiction for blockchain companies.
Rather Enabling Political Environment
The Government takes the most active position with respect to the regulation of blockchain-related projects and cryptocurrencies among institutionalized political actors of Gibraltar. The head of state, courts, and banks generally opt out of the public debate, while the only blockchain association of Gibraltar was launched at the initiative of the Government and shares a similar position with it. The focus is on the innovative character of the technology as well as on the need for "reasonable" regulation aimed at protecting the customers of blockchain companies and the image of Gibraltar as one of the world's most enabling jurisdictions for such business. The positions held by political actors contain no contradictions.
Rather Enabling Legal Environment
Regulatory Convergence There is no single body authorized to settle disputed issues regarding the application of legislation with respect to blockchain-related projects and cryptocurrencies. The key regulators are the Income Tax Office and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission. The development of special legislation is the responsibility of the Government of Gibraltar and the GFSC. The regulators work closely together, and their approaches do not contradict each other.
Definiteness of Legal Regulation Special legislation regulating blockchain-related projects and cryptocurrencies includes amendments to the Financial Services (Investment and Fiduciary Services) Act (FSA) adopted in December 2017. Legal relations in the sphere of the distributed ledger technology are regulated by analogy applying the Counter-Terrorism Act, Financial Services (Information Gathering and Co-operation) Act 2013, and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015. However, the legislation is not comprehensive as ICOs and mining remain unregulated.
Stability of Legal Regulation Although the drafting of the new legislation on ICO regulation had been planned to complete in October 2018, the GFSC and the Government released a statement on the date specified announcing that the draft law was still being worked on. Therefore, there are reliable grounds to assume that the legislation regulating blockchain-related projects will be amended over the medium term. At the same time, the expected amendments will be positive and cover the currently unregulated areas related to the distributed ledger technology.
Adequacy of Legal Regulation The regulation is generally stimulating and provides for enabling, flexible but reliable legal framework for the businesses. The regulation mainly focuses on protecting customers, preventing financial crimes, and developing the blockchain industry.
Situation with the Rule of Law Gibraltar, as a British territory, ranks 12th in the Rule of Law Index. The conditions of the legal regulation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies are enabling, and since the values of the sub-criterion of the rule of law are high (0.80), the amount of the difference between weighted (multiplied by Rule of Law Index score) and unweighted assessments are not significant.
Enabling Infrastructure Environment
There is a highly developed telecommunications and online services infrastructure in Gibraltar. According to the World Bank, Gibraltar, as a British territory, ranks 9th out of 190 countries in the Doing Business index 2018.