Bermuda’s opportunity in climate finance

Bermuda must practise what it preaches when it seeks to attract new businesses to the island, a panellist told an international audience at the International Tech Summit.

Kevin Richards is the managing director of BAM Tech Advisers and chairman of the Bermuda Innovation and Technology Association.

He is focused on the experience of prospective business owners when they arrive on the island.

Mr Richards explained: “When they get here, they have to have that experience that is authentic to what we have been selling the last seven years.”

He said Bermuda could “own” the space where climate finance and digital assets intersect.

“But if you come here, and energy is not produced by renewables…

“You come here, and you can’t use digital assets for payments anywhere on the island…”

Mr Richards added: “There’s not enough authentic elements of this whole movement that you experience when you come to the island.

“So, we have to have a big, big focus and we have to get all the big companies in Bermuda to invest in the local infrastructure so that we are an authentic actor — and then we can go and dominate the market.

“But until that happens, we are just going to be a big talking shop with people that don’t hire people locally — and we’re never going to have opportunities for the next generation because it’s going to be the same old story that we’ve had the last few generations.”

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Mr Richards was appearing on the panel “Onboarding Bermuda and the Next Billion”, where he was joined by Darren Wolfberg, founder, chairman and chief executive of Blockchain Triangle; Alison Swan, a director at the Swan Group; and Nico Gonzalez, chief digital officer at Paradise Mobile.

The panel was moderated by Erica Smith, executive director at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

Ms Swan said: “There are also some practical issues. We need housing for people to stay in, we need to have proper retail and entertainment and all of these things that need to be put into place to attract also people to set up their businesses here, and bring their families here, and to want to live here.”

Ms Swan said she is “getting a call or two a week” from companies that are looking to domicile on the island, and which tell her to convince them to do so.

She added: “They want to go to a jurisdiction where they can be regulated. These are companies that want to be regulated.

“And then I tell them the story about the infrastructure that’s coming online, whether it’s Paradise Mobile or Jewel Bank, or some of the other things that are really helping to create a perfect infrastructure for these companies to rest on.”

She added: “I am actually feeling quite encouraged. I think that the current business environment around digital assets, and especially in the United States, is forcing companies to rethink where they can do business.”

Mr Wolfberg said there is huge opportunity for the island in the area of climate finance.

“When I look at the math, you have new compliance that’s being adopted by the EU, UK, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the US — and you essentially have $115 trillion of capital that now needs climate compliance.

“You have $87 trillion of commercial lending that now needs climate compliance.”

He added: “The foundational pieces of a robust regulatory ecosystem here in Bermuda, a very successful reinsurance market which is truly the first climate risk capital of the world, and is the global leader, I think it’s Bermuda’s to lose from the standpoint of being that capital for climate finance on a go-forward basis and the $200 trillion of opportunity that exists.”