Bermuda will become a global hub for new digital industries, a blockchain pioneer predicted yesterday.
Bruce Silcoff, the chief executive of Shyft, said yesterday the island could be a leader in a “fourth industrial revolution”.
Shyft signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government last May and pledged to invest up to $10 million in Bermuda over a three-year period by creating jobs and boosting local businesses, education and infrastructure. Mr Silcoff has also teamed up with Bermudian-based personal data management technology firm Trunomi to launch Perseid, a digitised national identity scheme, this year.
He was unable to put a figure on the number of Bermudian jobs that would be filled in the short term, but he said island employment would be created “gradually”.
Mr Silcoff told The Royal Gazette: “If we build it, they will come. Once we demonstrate the proof of concept to the world, businesses will come, investors will come and then you will see jobs rapidly growing here. It has to be for Bermudians.
“If there are jobs here, not only are you going to keep your local residents but you will attract new people.
“You are no longer going to be just a tourist location, you are going to be the blockchain hub for the world — that’s how we deliver jobs, that’s how we deliver the future.”
He said: “We want to educate and retool the citizens of Bermuda. You’ve been victimised by a brain drain in Bermuda, your young children go off to university, get trained and educated and don’t come back until they’re older — you have a gap.”
Mr Silcoff, who is based in Toronto and visited the island this week, added: “Bermuda will be a global hub for blockchain.”
He said if the sector was as successful as he and many others predicted it will be, and marked a “fourth industrial revolution, then Bermuda will be at the epicentre of it and every citizen in this country stands to benefit”.
“All those children that have gone away until retirement will no longer go away.
“The people that are away will now have an opportunity to return to Bermuda. This will help repatriate all those people and it will help keep the young brains, the young talent, from leaving.”
The entrepreneur said for every 14 jobs in the sector there was only one person available.
He claimed investment, business and education in the industry meant Bermuda would become recognised as “a leading jurisdiction” in blockchain.
Mr Silcoff praised David Burt, the Premier, and his government for their efforts to cultivate digital asset business and said the Progressive Labour Party administration had “walked the walk” to attract companies to the island.
He added: “There is so much opportunity in blockchain. What I would like to do, and what the Premier wants to do, is tool the youth of Bermuda.
“We want to tool all citizens of Bermuda with blockchain expertise that can be sold to the rest of the world. That will change the landscape of this country.”
Mr Silcoff said education in the sector could be delivered on-island or electronically.
He said: “I’m a business owner, I would love to be able to pull talent from a local pool. That to me is the ideal situation and if I know that, that’s another reason why I’m going to set up in Bermuda.”
Stuart Lacey, the founder and CEO of Trunomi, added it was important to remember that blockchain was based on wider distributed-ledger technology, which gathered verified data from multiple independent sources to prove a particular event occurred.
He said the island’s advantage was that its infrastructure allowed companies to operate in a good regulatory framework.
Mr Lacey said: “Bermuda is unique among jurisdictions in the world in that one of the strongest competitive advantages we have and differentiators is our regulatory strength.”
He added: “We have the ability to rapidly implement new regulations that permit innovative new markets and ideas to form and grow in Bermuda and then expand globally.”