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Gibraltar became a hub for crypto — aimed to tackle attempts to manipulate the market

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A new set of regulations has been introduced by Gibraltar for the cryptocurrency sector, aimed at curbing potential market manipulation and insider trading.

On Wednesday, the British overseas territory posted an amendment to existing regulation requiring firms dealing in bitcoin and other digital currencies to respect the integrity of the markets in which they operate.

In a guidance note for regulated crypto companies, the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission says firms must combat “manipulation or improper influencing of prices, liquidity or market information, or any other behaviour which is inimical to market integrity.”

“We were the first jurisdiction in 2018 to launch the legal and regulatory framework, and we’re now the first jurisdiction to launch a framework for market integrity,” Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s minister for digital and financial services, told CNBC.

“The more there is around the world in terms of international standards for this space, the more trust, the more usage, and the more adoption we will have around the world,” he added.

While Gibraltar is perhaps better known as a seaport and a popular vacation spot, it is also the center of a number of other industries, including financial services and gambling. The move is part of a continuing effort to lead the way in digital currency regulation.

Gibraltar has a track record of developing rules for the crypto market despite its small size. The region, which borders Spain but is under British control, first issued licenses to blockchain firms in 2018.

The local regulators have granted licenses to some of the largest names working in Gibraltar, including FTX, Huobi, and Bullish, which was founded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

The world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance, has also visited Gibraltar “some months back,” but does not have a license, Isola said. After facing repercussions in numerous countries last year, the company wants to become a friend instead of a foe to regulators.

In order to become the world’s first regulated bourse for share and crypto trading, the Gibraltar Stock Exchange recently agreed to be acquired by Valereum, a blockchain firm. SIX Swiss Exchange also aims to achieve this goal by launching an exchange for trading blockchain-based securities.

Various major economies, including the U.S. and U.K., are now introducing new regulations to bring crypto under regulation.

“I think it’s a sign that more and more jurisdictions are recognizing the need to do it,” Isola said. “And the need to do it is because there’s more and more adoption.”

However, Isola insisted Gibraltar is “not doing this to market ourselves,” adding: “We want a very small but quality number of firms within our jurisdiction.”

Gibraltar was previously criticized for being a tax haven. Several major UK gambling firms have set up shop in the rocky peninsula, including Entain and 888. in part due to its favorable taxation regime. Gibraltar, however, has sought to distance itself from such a reputation more recently.

The region is “fully compliant with all transparency and exchange of information standards applicable in the U.K.,” Isola said, adding this was at odds with descriptions of Gibraltar as a tax haven. Such transparency standards also apply to crypto, Isola added, meaning “the bar to entry is high.”

Following a tax cooperation deal with the U.K., Spain agreed to remove Gibraltar from its list of tax havens. Following Britain’s exit from the EU, the issue has been a sticking point in London’s negotiations with Madrid.





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