Digital Isle of Man has formed a Blockchain Office and launched an Isle of Man Sandbox as part of a major new commitment for the jurisdiction to become an international hub for blockchain businesses.

The Blockchain Office will be a unique hub that is dedicated to growing the blockchain sector, facilitating a dialogue between businesses and regulators, and to help blockchain platforms design and future-proof their concepts in accordance with relevant legislation and regulation.

The office will also provide expertise, guidance, and marketing support, as well as facilitate and encourage collaboration between companies.

Through the Blockchain Office, businesses will be able to apply to participate in the Isle of Man Blockchain Sandbox. Applications for the Sandbox will be open from March, with the office fully functional in the spring. Early participants will not be charged fees for the facility, which will provide them with access to an environment where they can develop and test blockchain platforms.

The sandbox will benefit from the expertise garnered from future participation in other international forums and sandboxes that encourage cross-border testing. A robust selection process will also ensure that all participants are of the highest quality, as the Island seeks to create a ‘centre of excellence’ ecosystem.

“With the launch of the Blockchain Office and Sandbox, the Isle of Man is making a firm commitment to be a fully supportive jurisdiction for the blockchain industry,” said Lyle Wraxall, CEO of Digital Isle of Man, an executive agency of the government’s Department for Enterprise.

“We are looking to attract premium blockchain businesses and the world’s top exchanges to the Island, and we will be creating new tech-agnostic regulation inspired by best practice that we’ve seen from other high-quality jurisdictions around the world.”

The blockchain and the iGaming sector are already closely linked in Isle of Man legislation that allows virtual currencies to be deposited, withdrawn and gambled with licensed operators, and the Island is home to the first blockchain-enabled lottery platform run on Ethereum.

“The Isle of Man - which was among the first jurisdictions in the world to establish a legislative framework for virtual currencies - has been home to leading exchanges since 2013, and is the headquarters of blockchain businesses including CoinCorner, Quanta, Luckbox and Qadre,” said Daphne Caine MHK, Political Member for Digital Isle of Man.

“The creation of the Blockchain Office solidifies our commitment to maintaining our reputation at the forefront of innovation and emerging technologies and responding quickly to new business models. It is encouraging to see that the sector is supported by a community of legal, accountancy and fiduciary firms, service providers and advisors, and the Island’s long-established financial services and e-Gaming sectors act as a strong foundation for the industry.”