Begin as you intend to continue’ – this is the motivation driving the monthly events, as Startup Grind Gibraltar’s first event of the year secured the Hon Albert Isola as the first guest speaker of 2019. Gibraltar has seen a boost in the set-up of new business, but also startups through DLT Regulation, which has been a combined effort of his Ministry, Gibraltar Finance led by senior executive Paul Astengo, and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.

The positive economic impact and potential of creating the right environment has increased the awareness and value locally towards tech and startup industries, so as part of the Fireside Chat the discussion focused on career, politics and what’s in store with Minister for Commerce Hon Albert Isola.

Having a long line of family history in Gibraltar politics, his grandfather was a member of the Executive Council in 1944. The early days of local politics was something he grew up with, and this evidently motivated a career as a politician alongside legal work. Albert Isola comes from a traditional family of lawyers, with businesses in Gibraltar since 1892. In 1963 and 1964 Peter Isola was in opposition and Sir Joshua Hassan, the Chief Minister, was an old rival, yet the two men put their differences aside when General Franco began his onslaught on Gibraltar. They made two trips to the United Nations with Sir Joshua Hassan to plead Gibraltar’s case.

During our Q&A session (which is available to watch in full at youtu.be/I6b9hsUpWf8) we discussed Gibraltar’s tremendous political and economic success, his role in Financial Services and Gaming and the importance of creating the right environment for innovation and startups locally.

There has been a flow of new products during his term in office overseeing the introduction of several important and forward-thinking initiatives, for example insurance-linked securities, with the very first transaction involving local gaming company Lottoland – one of the more successful startup gaming models in the world nowadays. More recently, the work from his Ministry has seen Gibraltar globally identified as a blockchain hub. In the traditional economy and systems of business, applying strict regulatory controls has proved logical and successful. However, emerging blockchain technology is disruptive and innovative, meaning that any attempt to govern it must be equally innovative. However, he feels that there is no doubt that key players leading legitimate blockchain projects will endeavour to at least meet the standards of regulators when it comes to important risk-related issues like Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML).

In his blog, the Minister wrote: “Regulation has just been one strand of focus for Gibraltar in the jurisdiction’s emergence as a blockchain powerhouse during 2018. As a jurisdiction, we have always felt that educational development should progress in tandem with regulatory advances. The launch of the New Technologies in Education (NTiE) group, a joint effort between the Gibraltar Government, the University of Gibraltar along with some of the leading new technology companies based in Gibraltar, took place in parallel to the jurisdiction setting out the landmark blockchain regulation. I’m very proud of the progress that has been made in these areas, as we gear up for another stellar year of blockchain innovation.” One of these joint efforts are the workshops being offered by the GSX Group Blockchain Innovation Centre bic.gi which held the second workshop on 28th February at the University in collaboration with Coinsilium.