MOU Signings In FinTech Development

Friday, May 4th, 2018
The Hon. David Burt, JP, MP

Ministerial Statement by the Premier and Minister of Finance, The Hon. David Burt, JP, MP

Mr. Speaker, this Government promised to create an environment in which Bermudian businesses can thrive, opportunities for Bermudians can be created and in which capable, qualified Bermudians can earn opportunities to work, train and succeed at every level. We undertook to create new economic pillars in Bermuda, identify new opportunities for economic diversification and to seek local and overseas investment to develop new local industry to create jobs in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, the pace at which technological innovation moves in today’s world has challenged the established norms of doing business. The new normal demands that those who would participate in this evolving space are equally as innovative, flexible and immediately responsive to the requirements of doing business. This government promised to usher in an era of business development that, at its core, would diversify Bermuda’s economy and provide opportunities for Bermudians to be more than spectators to economic success. A key element of our vision is to partner with those investors who share our goal of using the development of their business interests as a means by which to provide that economic success to Bermudians who have for too long been sidelined. 

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that last week the Government signed a Memorandum of understanding with Binance Holdings Limited the parent company of the Binance Group. Mr. Speaker, the Binance Group is the world’s largest Digital Asset exchange and is an international organization leading in the area of the development of digital asset exchanges. Through the Binance Charity Foundation the group is committed to improving education and creating awareness in the development and use of blockchain technology and through Binance Labs the group invests in companies that use blockchain technology.  

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Bermuda and Binance Holdings Limited have agreed to give effect to the mutual undertakings set out in the signed MOU to further the diversification of Bermuda’s economy and to empower and equip Bermudians to fully benefit from the development of new streams of economic growth.

Mr. Speaker, the relevant terms of the MOU are as follows:

BINANCE HOLDINGS LIMITED WILL:

  1. Develop its global compliance base in Bermuda;
  2. To facilitate the compliance base, at least 40 jobs will be created in Bermuda.
  3. Sponsor university-level training for Bermudians in blockchain technology development and in regulatory compliance, in an amount up to US$10m;
  4. Through Binance Labs make up to US $5 million available for investments in new Bermuda based blockchain companies.
  5. As soon as practicable, develop an Digital Asset Exchange in Bermuda subject to all required legal and regulatory processes; and
  6. Work collaboratively with the Government of Bermuda and all necessary oversight agencies in the development and improvement of a robust legal and regulatory framework 

THE GOVERNMENT OF BERMUDA WILL:

  1. Provide high level, dedicated concierge services to further the investment of Binance Holdings Limited as set out in this Memorandum of Understanding;
  2. Through the Department of Workforce Development support the training of Bermudians in blockchain technology and regulatory compliance
  3. Give priority consideration to all applications in accordance with all relevant laws and applicable policies; and
  4. Work collaboratively with Binance Holdings Limited in the furtherance of the mutual goals and objectives set out herein.

Mr. Speaker, the Binance Group has decided that their goals are a fit with the government’s aims and objectives to provide a leading, well regulated jurisdiction, ideally suited to the growth of the FinTech industry.

Mr. Speaker, I have often said the segment of society most affected by the changes in our economy are middle aged women that used to work in the banking industry. Many had long tenures at our banks, but due to outsourcing and other changes many have been made redundant and have a difficult time re-entering the workforce as they get labelled with the dreaded title of “overqualified”. Mr. Speaker, their skills are easily transferrable to the compliance field, and that is precisely the jobs that Binance will create in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, this government is not wasting time, and I can confirm that a list of Bermudians who are currently unemployed but are looking for work in the compliance field was provided to the Binance Group by the Department of Workforce Development. Those Bermudians can look forward to interviews in the near future as this government delivers on it promise to create jobs for Bermudians.

Mr. Speaker, the passage of last week’s Bill on initial coin offerings (ICOs) has sparked a flurry of interest in Bermuda as a jurisdiction committed to effectively regulating this emerging industry. Hard on the heels of the Binance MOU, I was pleased to also sign a similar document with Medici Ventures LLC and its CEO Dr. Patrick Byrne.

Mr. Speaker, Overstock.com was the first major enterprise in the world to accept Bitcoin, and as an expression of its early belief that blockchain will create a new age in technological advancement, its subsidiary Medici Ventures was formed to incubate, launch, and invest in blockchain investments in the most fundamental processes. These include blockchain-meets-land-titling, blockchain-meets-central-banking, blockchain-meets-capital-markets, blockchain-meets-voting, blockchain-meets-healthcare; Mr. Speaker, the possibilities seem endless.

Under this MOU, Medici Ventures, LLC will:

  1. Make Bermuda its laboratory for the most leading edge blockchain innovations coming out of its stable of a dozen blockchain firms;
  2. Create at least thirty (30) jobs in Bermuda over three years;
  3. As soon as practicable, develop an Security Token Trading Platform in Bermuda subject to all required legal and regulatory processes;
  4. Focus its social contribution in Bermuda on nurturing a proper pipeline for creating basic, intermediate, and advanced software development engineers; and
  5. Work collaboratively with the Government of Bermuda and all necessary oversight agencies in the development and improvement of a robust legal and regulatory framework.

THE GOVERNMENT OF BERMUDA WILL:

  1. Provide high level, dedicated concierge services to further the investment of Medici Ventures, LLC as set out in this Memorandum of Understanding;
  2. Through the Department of Workforce Development support the training of Bermudians in blockchain technology and software development
  3. Give priority consideration to all applications in accordance with all relevant laws and applicable regulations

Mr. Speaker, this work requires courage. Bermuda has been an Island of twin economic pillars for decades and the creation of other avenues of economic growth may cause existing, vested interests and their defenders some unease. There is nothing to fear from diversifying this economy and there is everything to gain by pursuing growth that is not constrained by antiquated business models and restricted in its economic impact. It is time for us to do things differently and to empower those of our citizens who have historically been left out. We committed to building a better and fairer Bermuda and so at every turn, all our efforts are devoted to achieving that goal.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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