Blockchain and Crypto on the World Stage
The emergence of the global crypto industry has signaled a sea change in what it means to be a global and powerful economy. Economic giants have varied in their acceptance of the new technology. In the US, regulations have kneecapped the ICO and token model for the time being. While local governments are passing (mostly) symbolic legislation, at the federal level things have been relatively quiet. The private sector, on the other hand, is picking up the slack, with mega-corps like IBM unveiling widespread blockchain initiatives. World powers like Japan have taken a different tack, pushing crypto and blockchain technology at the highest levels of government.
Smaller countries have been making inroads as well. Estonia envisions itself a digital republic and the standard bearer of an open tech future. The microscopic archipelago of Malta is passing laws at a blistering clip in order to set the ground work for digital currency supremacy. Joining this rag tag group of little dreamers is New Zealand, a politically and economically stable democracy that’s well-positioned to take advantage of the booming growth throughout the Asian Pacific region
But there’s always a difference between potential and actual performance. So what are the prospects for New Zealand becoming a new crypto epicenter?
A Case for Crypto
New Zealand has been watching the economic future of the world flourish in its own neighborhood, with successive booms in Taiwan, South Korea, India, and of course China. The government in Wellington, looking for ways to harness the country’s close business ties with North American and Europe, and compete with the behemoths around the corner, became one of the founding members of the Digital 7 network. (First known as the D5 before Canada and Uruguay joined in 2018.) The organization seeks to promote digital literacy among its citizens to foster programming, open standards, and free markets, all of which jibe with the spirit of cryptocurrency and blockchain, and help New Zealand to punch above its weight on the world stage.
Yet New Zealand has hesitated to throw its hat into the crypto ring. In November 2017, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand produced a paper that declared cryptocurrency “not-so-funny money“. Shades of gray abound; while the Inland Revenue Department clarified that it regards crypto as property, not currency, the government is a long ways off from formulating a clear-cut and concrete policy regarding the new technology.
The Future Can’t Wait
New Zealand offer blockchain businesses a number of incentives. Its streamlined tax system and high standard of living appeal to globally minded citizens, and its timezone, by virtue of being 17 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time in the U.S. and 4 hours ahead of China Standard Time, means it’s possible to catch clients in Silicon Valley and Shanghai within business hours.
Still, there are harsh geographic realities that come with being a nation of under 5 million situated at the lower reaches of the Earth. While Asia is growing, New Zealand remains at something of a disconnect from the economic action of transatlantic trade between North America and Europe, and is forever at loggerheads with its larger neighbor Australia for entrepreneurs and overseas investment. Adding insult to injury, New Zealand’s failure to keep pace with the digital progress of other nation’s really hurts it.
There is still time, but the world won’t wait forever. New Zealand clearly has rich potential to become a leader in emerging tech, but entrepreneurs and business will not hesitate to shift their attention to another locale that better suits their needs.