Although Gibraltar’s stock exchange GSX is the youngest and one of the smallest of the world’s bourses, this newness and size have let it steal a march on the giants of Wall Street, London, Frankfurt and Shanghai. It has become the world’s first stock exchange to list Bitcoin funds – enabled to handle the crypto-currency because it is ‘unhindered by dated methods and traditions’, according to its CEO Nick Cowan
Founded in 2014 as a technical listing exchange for open-ended funds, since then GSX has expanded its offering to include closed-ended funds, asset-backed securities, insurance-linked securities, debt and derivatives… and, late last year Bitcoin funds. It now competes favourably with established players such as Ireland, Luxemburg and Malta, and has attracted small to medium-sized managers looking to establish a European listing quickly, and at relatively low cost with minimal regulatory burden.
And it is the speed at which a new listing can be licensed – five days, instead of five months on many other bourses – as well the resultant low cost that is proving attractive. Factors that are enhanced by a respected but accessible and user-friendly regulatory structure, Gibraltar’s Financial Services Commission.
Last year GSX became Europe’s first and only fully-regulated exchange to handle Bitcoin funds. And later this year it plans to apply to the FSC for a license to become a trading platform, rather than confining its activities to purely listing bonds and funds.
If licensed, it would begin trading next year and, given the changing shape of financial transactions brought about by the exploration of Cyberspace and other esoteric factors, it could become the first properly-regulated bourse to take block-chain under its accounting wing… opening what is predicted to become an important global market.
The failure of a previous and un related attempt to establish an exchange on the Rock – Gibex – has left Cowan’s team keen to stress the simplicity and robustness of its own model.
And the figures point to how successful that has been. Memberships and market capitalization – at 17 and £600 million respectively – point to encouraging growth; while with several more Membership applicants in the pipeline, and £85 million of new listings taken on board in March, the boutique bourse is ‘so busy we will need to take on more staff this year,’ Cowan says’ And he expects the market cap to touch the £1 billion mark by the end of the year.