Jersey aims to become world's first "Bitcoin isle"

A campaign has begun to make Jersey a world leader in digital currencies as a way of developing new business on the island.

As the interest in digital currencies shows no sign of slowing, an industry body, bit.coin.je, has been founded to turn Jersey into a "Bitcoin Isle."

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Bitcoin, the best known of the crypto-currencies, was founded in 2009, and is essentially, a long string of computer code protected by a personal pin. With no central regulation, Bitcoin allows for quick, secure and cheap transactions, but it has not been without criticism.

In December of last year, chief executive of Guernsey Finance, Fiona Le Poidevin, raised her own concerns over the fledgling currency, which she said had become increasingly familiar, but was "still in its infancy and this brings with it both challenges and opportunities."

Looking to capitalise on these opportunities, Jersey's treasury minister senator, Philip Ozouf, is keen to adopt the currency sooner rather than later.

"Our infrastructure of world-class financial services and digital expertise gives us the tools to be an early leader in the field. Innovation will be central to Jersey's future prosperity," he said. "We are keen to support local businesses by helping to create a well-regulated and responsive environment for investment in the sector."

A number of businesses on the island already accept the currency, but the ultimate aim is for the island's banks to accept and trade with it, allowing Jersey to become a magnet for technology industries.

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Robbie Andrews of bit.coin.je, said it was up to governments to keep pace with the changes that digital currencies are bringing to the global finance industry.

He said, "At the moment there is a big push for a digital industry in Jersey to grow and if you asked any technologist what is the one technology that fits between technology and finance, it would be a crypto-currency like Bitcoin."