“Right now, the BVI is probably the most attractive, in terms of the digital asset space amongst the offshore centres,” said Ayana Hull, while addressing the future of the regulatory regime during the Brown Bag Lunch Forum hosted by BVI Finance.
Ayanna Hull, the Head of Private Wealth and Regulatory Practice Group at Harney was speaking on the Digital Assets and Sandbox Experience. She was joined by Glenford Malone, Acting Deputy Managing Director of Financial Services Commission (FSC); Lisa Lou, the President of the Bank of Asia; and Elaine Sun, the Senior Executive and Chief Compliance Officer of Brtuomi Worldwide Limited (BML), a leading crypto derivative exchange, who all spoke on their experience with the BVI FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, how it is evolving and requirements to be in the Sandbox, in front of an audience of industry peers. The forum was moderated by BVI Finance’s Simon Gray, BVI’s Finance’s Global Head of Business Development and Marketing and took place on March 18.
Malone spoke on the trends in applications received for the Sandbox by the FSC saying that persons who have applied have been of a high calibre with a good understanding of what they want to do and have been able to engage the Commission in a technical manner. He then explained that the Sandbox is intended to be an area to assist people who have unique ideas to be tested.
“A lot of it revolves around fintech and practically 90 percent to 99 percent of it revolves around the virtual asset space,” said Mr. Malone.
Hull then spoke on the quality of applications received and the consistency in the standards needed. She stated, “There is the technical knowledge that you need to be up to speed with and there is the legal aspect. On the technical side, because it is so new to the BVI, it is not very easy to find a lot of people that understands crypto, understands blockchain, understand platforms, or understands how [it all] works… So, what happens is that we have a fintech team internally, where there are four or five of us and we all sit and analyse everything that comes through.”
Hull continued to explain the approach to the application process, “We have the technical expertise, and we have the legal expertise, and we rely on each other in terms of what is going on, on the ground.”
Lisa Lou said for the Bank of Asia servicing digital offerings has been a learn-to-grow process. “Our experience and our observation are actually more from our clients. What our clients need, what they say, what they want to get into [are all] what we observe from our client-base.”
She said, “The bank has seen an increase in inquiries in the digital assets related business, and that can be an exchange or can be a funds company that has both a traditional portfolio as well as a crypto portfolio. There has been quite a bit of discussions on the security tokens and security token exchanges. The BVI has made progress in that regard. These are all the players in the industry, and those are the players that are growing rapidly, and out of them, they grow into an ecosystem.”
Sun from BWL, shared her experience of entering the Sandbox and the core products offered in the Sandbox.
“We applied right after the BVI Sandbox Guidelines had been issued, within one or two months, we believe that this Sandbox has met with both the financial innovation purpose as well as the regulator, [and] they do have quite a clear criterion and standard to be able to supervise the digital asset derivative exchange in the current security and future act.”
Among other topics discussed by the panelists were the trends in applications, actions to be taken by firms, educational opportunities, filling knowledge gaps, reviewing the BVI’s current position, maintaining competitiveness, and the implementation and effects of the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP).
The British Virgin Islands’ Regulatory Sandbox encourages innovation within the jurisdiction’s financial services sector, while mitigating and managing possible risks. For more information visit www.bvifsc.vg/products-services/sandbox.
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