Ron Mendelson is the Director of Fast Offshore – a consultancy that deals with online gaming licenses, company formation and other corporate services, online payments, compliance, and services relating to blockchain and cryptocurrency. With over 21 years of experience, his practice, and his expertise covers Central America, the Caribbean and the EU.
Ron and his team regularly advise start-ups in both the iGaming and blockchain sector, and through his network of established contacts they service clients all over the world. In this interview he gives us his thoughts on the future of the two industries, as well as which jurisdictions he prefers, and why.
Ron, tell us about yourself and your work?
I started my corporate services firm over 21 years ago. I always had in interest in technology and financial services so when the iGaming industry began to take off, it was a natural graviation for me. In 1996 Curacao launched its iGaming license, making it one of the first jurisdictions to regulate online gaming in the world. In my opinion, it remains as one of the best places to set up, particularly for startups. Then, once they are set up and operational, they can consider moving to EU jurisdictions such as Malta, which is my pick out of all EU bases.
Then, when the crypto-revolution started, I found my interest piqued. As well as investing in cryptocurrency myself, Fast Offshore started to accept crypto payments, as well as to assist our clients with ICOs, whitepapers, and setting up crypto or blockchain businesses.
Which industry do you see the most potential in?
I am glad this is a hypothetical question as there is no real straight answer! iGaming is thriving and will continue to do so but blockchain and cryptocurrency have more scope. They have more real world uses- many of which we haven’t discovered yet. This means that we are only just scratching the surface of its potential, something that i find very exciting! But what I am most interested in is seeing how the two industries will converge as time goes on.
Talk us through the crypto landscape in Central America?
Much of the buzz around crypto seems to be focussed on the EU and EEA and we have seen a number of countries like Malta, France, Switzerland introduce crypto-friendly legislation over the last 12 months. But that is not to say that things this side of the Atlantic are not of any interest.
BVI, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curacao- all of these jurisdictions are developing as great locations for businesses operating in the sector as the governments are on the whole, very open to it. North America however is a bit more complicated- I don’t think regulators are particularly clear on how it all works, but Central America and the Caribbean are showing a lot of promise.
In terms or regulation, Costa Rica is great as the government have adopted a very “hands off” approach which is great for startups who are trying to find their feet. Jurisdictions such as Antigua, BVI and Cayman Islands are all famous for their corporate services sectors, but they are also equally suitable for crypto and blockchain as well.
So how do they compare to the EU scene?
Conducting any kind of business in Europe is a lot more formal and strict as regulations are much tighter and can often change without much notice. Malta is a popular choice for setting up a crypto or blockchain business in Europe following the recent introduction of crypto-friendly laws. Whilst it is a good place to operate from, unless you have some experience in the sector I would advise starting out somewhere a little less rigorous first.
Things are looking quite interesting in France at the moment. I saw that they have recently introduced a law that will oblige banks to give accounts to crypto and blockchain businesses. This is great news as usually it can be quite tough to find a bank that is happy to work with them.
Of course, it is natural for banks to be cynical of crypto, after all they are competing against each other, but it is my belief that those that are not able to adapt, will just get left behind.
And what about iGaming?
Online gambling has been around for decades and as such, the regulatory landscape and the attitudes of banks reflect this. Whilst of course, they are still wary, they tend to be a lot more open to working with operators and service providers from the iGaming sector.
In Europe, the Malta Gaming Authority are by far the most respected jurisdiction. I have been assisting clients there for years in gaining the licences and the government are extremely pro-business in their approach. Businesses operating there can also benefit from some of the lowest effective corporate tax rates in Europe through their tax dividend scheme, and the whole workforce is English speaking, skilled, and experienced in iGaming and its associated industries. The Isle of Man is another great alternative and it also enjoys a sterling reputation globally.
How do you think governments in these countries can better support innovative sectors?
Whilst I am in favour of regulation and supervision where needed, I do sometimes think it would be better if governments just took a step back. Some jurisdictions try to regulate or even limit certain sectors, without even understanding them. This leads to stifling of industry, business, and of course, innovation.
What advice would you give to someone looking start a crypto or blockchain business?
These sectors are only going to continue growing and we can expect to see much more widespread adoption by governments and international businesses. I would advise startups to find a niche, figure out how to master it, and of course choose the right jurisdiction. The fundamental ingredient for success in this increasingly competitive market is working with honesty and integrity. In other words, don’t cut corners and be careful who you partner with.
To be honest, I think the same applies. Online gaming is a very mature marketplace but by invoking new technologies and innovations into your business plan, you can emerge as someone with a truly unique offering.
About Fast Offshore
Fast Offshore have been providing reliable overseas businesses solutions since 1998. Their services include (but are not limited to) Online Gambling / Remote Gaming Licensing, Banking, Payment Processing, Offshore Company Formation, Management, Administration Domiciliation and much more… These are made available in a wide range of jurisdictions offering businesses both flexibility and stability.