The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is the second biggest cryptocurrency market in the world, statistics show.
The BVI had a trading volume in crypto assets valued at $78.5bn, in the first six months of 2018. This puts it just $5.3bn behind the USA, which was the largest market for cryptocurrency, with a trading volume valued at $83.8bn.
Japan was the third biggest with a six-month volume of $29.2bn, followed closely by Luxembourg which came in at $27.9bn; Russia was the fifth largest market, with $18.5bn exchanging hands in the first half of 2018.
Cryptowatch a real-time cryptocurrency market data provider, as well as price tracking and trading service, compiled the data. It collected information from the 15 biggest cryptocurrency exchanges and included trading pairs with fiat currency and Tether (USDT).
The information was published by CoinShares in its H1 2018 Crypto Report.
Established in 2014, Cryptowatch is owned by the San-Francisco exchange Kraken. There is an increasing trend for prominent exchanges to set up their own price tracking services, challenging the market leader CoinMarketCap. Binance Info announced earlier this month that it would be launching the beta phase for its own mobile app; the service also offers full coin profiles and a news aggregator.
BVI Crypto Haven: The Junction Of US and UK Enterprise?
Regulation is always a bugbear for the community. The markets lost $36bn following the news the SEC was delaying its decision on Bitcoin ETFs until September. Larger economies like the USA, China, and the EU have been slow to react and legislate cryptocurrency.
Slow regulatory process was a cause for frustration earlier this year as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) failed to give adequate guidelines for fledgling cryptocurrency businesses. “The FCA does not regulate cryptocurrencies,” a spokesman said in an email, at the time. “For them to be brought inside our regulatory remit, would be a matter for HM Treasury. As such it is hard to have guidelines on them.”
Smaller economies, like Malta, Luxembourg, and Bermuda have taken advantage of the slower pace of their larger neighbors and rapidly established a regulatory framework. The Maltese parliament in early June passed its own DLT bill and Gibraltar has established a set of regulatory principles; the Bermudan Premier even spoke at Consensus back in May, describing what the island was doing to create a cryptocurrency haven.
In contrast, there have been few bullish statements coming out from the BVI. This might be because the archipelago is better known for its friendly tax policy, rather than its industrial dynamism. A report by Reuters two weeks ago found one of the top destinations for crypto businesses moving their headquarters was the BVI.
So Why The BVI For Crypto Companies?
The British Virgin Islands is a UK overseas territory with around 30,000 residents; however, the official currency is the US dollar. Its proximity to a US territory – the US Virgin Islands – means that it is the closest physical relationship between the two ‘parent’ countries.
In times past the BVI has been described as a ‘tax haven’ although it has strived to rid itself of that appellation. It has no cap gains tax, sales tax, value added tax, inheritance tax… or corporation tax. The islands do tax employees and employers, but the majority of their income derives from fees paid by offshore companies incorporated there.
Recent legislation enacted by the UK government could make the BVI (and the Cayman Islands) more transparent when it comes to financial services. Following the publication of The Panama Papers, the new law mandates publicly accessible records of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories by December 2020, although both territories have vowed to fight it.
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