“For every one license we’ve issued, we’ve probably said no to 10,” he said. “When you’re considering a new sector, to bring in big names is extremely attractive, but they’ve got to be good names. So you’ve got to be willing to say no to even some of the bigger ones.”
Online gambling is responsible for around 3,000 jobs on Gibraltar, or about 10 percent of the territory’s population. Mr. Isola said he saw a similar possibility in the blockchain, calling it “the next significant new flow of business.”
Gibraltar is in the final stages before voting on regulations that, similar to Malta’s, would let companies issue and trade digital tokens. Already, 35 companies have applied to the government for licenses to operate blockchain businesses.
Liechtenstein, the Alpine nation between Austria and Switzerland, is also among the newer entrants to the race, with the prime minister circulating a Blockchain Act this summer to allow companies to sell tokens.
The activity has spread to other areas, too. Wyoming and Delaware have passed laws aimed at welcoming certain blockchain businesses, though they have been less focused on ones that trade in tokens. In 2014, New York created a so-called BitLicense, which initially drew businesses to the state, but it has since been viewed as a deterrent because of the government’s wide-ranging requirements and slow approval process.
In Switzerland, the canton of Zug has also sought out crypto business, labeling itself Crypto Valley. Zug’s top economic official who has worked on the effort, Guido Bulgheroni, flew to the cryptocurrency conference in May that Mr. Burt also attended.
At a cocktail party for Crypto Valley, Mr. Bulgheroni said his first job was to make sure that anyone with a crypto project was happy being in the Zug area.
“How many other jurisdictions have that?” he said.