A group of Isle of Man businesses has launched an incubator for digital currency startups.
Six companies, ranging from an accountancy firm to a broadband provider, now offer free or discounted services for startups working on bitcoin or other digital currencies.
The incubator launch follows the island government's announcement that it would seek to regulate digital currencies in a way that is favourable for companies working with the technology. To that end, the government is working on legislation that would be included under existing laws.
Open to all
The digital currency incubator, perhaps fittingly, is decentralised, and startups that want to take advantage of its services can contact the providers directly for an informal assessment.
"Anybody is allowed to come here and they can choose from the services on offer," said R Paul Davis, general counsel at Counting House, one of the service providers.
Wi-Manx, for example, will offer free engineering time, discounted contracts for data hosting and telephony services. It will also accept payment in bitcoin. Any startup that wants to take advantage of the services will be required to go through an informal screening with the company.
Managing director Joe Hughes explained:
Startups in the incubator can take advantage of discounted office space and short leases in Britannia House, a popular startup hub on the island, offered by Dixcart.
The Isle of Man is increasingly attempting to position itself as a hotspot for bitcoin businesses, thanks to its favourable regulatory environment and a business community eager for new, bitcoin-powered transplants.
The British Crown dependency, which is also known for hosting the legendary Isle of Man TT motorcycle race annually, has a technology sector that's populated with firms in the online gambling industry. Some of those firms and their software developers are now turning their attention to digital currencies.
"Historically, online poker was the big draw, and that extended to bingo and betting. You've now got an ecosystem of software developers and fair regulation guarantees, so a lot of the framework is already there to lend itself to digital currency businesses," Hughes said.
According to Davis, there has already been an influx of inquiries to the incubator's professional service providers. His firm, for example, is signing up one or two new clients, focused on digital currency, a week.
"This is the biggest opportunity for the Isle of Man since gaming moved here. Bitcoin may be the digital currency of the future or it may not, but we are the ideal place for the technology to call home," he said.
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