The arrival of blockchain technology has created a huge buzz across hundreds of industries around the globe, and its potential to improve the massively flawed centralised architecture that makes up the vast majority of services. Just think of Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. Thus blockchain tech is fast becoming the go-to technology across a number of industries.
On one hand, many recognise the potential of blockchain in streamlining some of their own activities, and increasing security and transparency. On the other, numerous governments have taken a cautious approach to the proliferation of Initial Coin Offerings — one need only look at the SEC’s recent actions in the U.S., or the European Securities and Market Authority’s statement involving the high risk for investors. We’ve further seen the Bitlicense stifle innovation in the State of New York.
In Asia, the playing field could not be more varied. Despite China’s edge in mobile payments, it has outlawed ICOs, cancelled blockchain events, and banned cryptocurrency exchanges. A similar pattern is seen in nations like India and South Korea (although recent developments might indicate that the latter will soon legalise ICOs again).
In a continent wrought with indecisiveness about how to proceed in the emerging domain, Singapore provides a beacon of hope. The country is a hub of innovation and home to a wealth of successful blockchain projects, including Kyber Network, Zilliqa, and the Quadrant Protocol.
A number of factors have been attributed to Singapore’s friendly environment for projects in the space. With a fairly small population of 5 million and a high GDP per capita, only one regulatory body is in charge of making decisions — the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The lack of competing entities vastly streamlines the decision-making process, and has resulted in a very clear delineation of securities and tokens.
Singapore is one of the leaders in financial technology. With its welcoming approach to bleeding-edge blockchain protocols, it will surely rise to prominence alongside countries like Estonia and Switzerland. Given the regulatory pressures being applied from all side to neighbouring jurisdictions, Singapore will undoubtedly continue to witness an influx of innovation. The government itself has been considering methods by which to port the Singapore dollar onto a distributed ledger.
When we founded Bluzelle in 2014, Singapore immediately seemed like the ideal location to establish our business. We have offices in Canada, but Singapore is a much more appealing offering, particularly for entrepreneurs in the tech industry. It’s an excellent place to work and network with like-minded leaders.
The major selling point, however, is the competence of the regulators. While many in other countries struggle to understand the technology they’re passing legislation on, those in Singapore have clearly done their homework, and understand the incredibly complex and multifaceted nature of the industry. Most importantly, they seem to realise that the technology has unbridled potential, and (given the nature of distributed systems) is not something that can simply be banned and forgotten about.
Other countries need to follow in these footsteps. These are still very early days for blockchain technology, but already, a ‘brain drain’ phenomenon seems to be brewing as developers and companies migrate to more welcoming jurisdictions.
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