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What Ireland’s Ecosystem Success Story Means for Crypto

A common concern among regulators of cryptocurrencies is that a lack of international harmony across jurisdictions creates “regulatory arbitrage” for developers of what is a global, borderless 24/7 technology and market. In this week’s episode, we go to Ireland.

Listen on:

On this episode

In this week’s episode, we go to Ireland.

“Money Reimagined” co-hosts Sheila Warren and Michael J. Casey are joined by Michael O’Sullivan, the author of “The Levelling,” which describes the post-globalization era, and Lory Kehoe, director, Digital Assets & Blockchain at BNY Mellon and the founder of Blockchain Ireland.

This episode is sponsored by Unique One Network.

The topic, nominally, is the Biden Administration's proposal to harmonize international tax rates and Ireland’s resistance to that.

What does this have to do with crypto? A lot, it turns out.

A common concern among regulators of cryptocurrencies is that a lack of international harmony across jurisdictions creates “regulatory arbitrage” for developers of what is a global, borderless 24/7 technology and market.

The idea, flagged by Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler in his impactful speech this week, is that if there’s no consistency in rules around the world, crypto businesses will pick and choose where they base their operations and tend toward the most lax regulatory regime. Regulators like Gensler fear this fosters a race to the bottom, opening the door for criminals and the worst actors to find their way in.

Makes sense, right?

But there’s another side to the story about the policy variance around the world. That is, it allows smaller countries to find opportunities they might not otherwise have to attract international investors and to build their own vibrant domestic economies on the back of that.

As we learn from Sullivan and Kehoe, Ireland’s use of competitively low corporate tax rates had a sweeping impact on the Irish economy that went far beyond multinationals setting up headquarters there. It was the spark that generated a vibrant ecosystem of innovation, a holistic growth machine that continues to underpin Ireland’s decades-long economic expansion.

With many in Ireland looking to create a crypto-friendly regulatory framework to encourage innovation in digital assets and fintech, that experience poses real questions about how far governments should go toward harmonizing their rules.

Image credit: Lucas Bischoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus, modified by CoinDesk

Updated headline Aug. 10, 2021

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