Puerto Rico Aims to Attract Blockchain Startups With New Council

NEWS
Bailey Reutzel
Mar 15, 2018 at 16:45 UTC

Puerto Rico's government has created an advisory council aimed at spurring the development of blockchain businesses on the island.

The move was announced Thursday during the Blockchain Unbound conference in San Juan. Manuel Laboy Rivera, Puerto Rico's secretary of economic development and commerce, struck a bullish tone during remarks about the tech's future prospects. The council is composed of a mix of public and private sector representatives, including Rivera, the government's chief innovation officer and its secretary of the Treasury, as well as a mix of entrepreneurs and investors that have moved to Puerto Rico.

Blockchain, he said, "is accelerating economic and social changes worldwide and Puerto Rico wants to be a part of it."

The creation of the council comes after a number of high-profile blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs followed investor Brock Pierce to U.S. commonwealth to set up a "crypto utopia" of sorts.

According to Rivera, Puerto Rico already offers a beneficial location for new businesses, a state of affairs that is buoyed by the tax incentives outlined in several legislative acts. These include Act 22, which provides exemptions for individual investors that are residents of the island.

On top of that, Rivera said the government – through the advisory council – will be looking at ways to develop the best possible regulations and legal framework to support blockchain businesses. That said, as a U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Rico has all the protections given by federal government and must also abide by American regulatory frameworks.

Puerto Rico's interest in attracting blockchain entrepreneurs and investors comes after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria, the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record.

As such, the government in Puerto Rico would like to diversify its economy – and according to Rivera, officials there see blockchain as one way to do that. And after detailing the openness of the government to the industry, Rivera, pointing to the beautiful landscape and vibrant culture on the island, joked:

"But most importantly, you'll be doing business in a tropical island."

Manuel Laboy Rivera at Blockchain Unbound conference via CoinDesk

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Brock PiercePuerto Rico