When U.S. entrepreneur Bharath Rao looked around for the best place to raise money for his crypto-currency derivatives trading business, the United States did not make his list. Instead he chose the East African island nation Seychelles to sell the trading platform’s tokens.
Rao, a San Diego-based technology veteran who has worked for major Wall Street banks, is not alone.
Confronted with national regulators’ intensifying scrutiny of digital currency fund-raising, known as initial coin offerings, many entrepreneurs are moving businesses to locations more welcoming to crypto-currencies and known for low taxes.
Dozens of start-ups have flocked to Singapore, Switzerland, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean this year, according to interviews with entrepreneurs and company registration data made available to Reuters.
Like bitcoin, the best-known crypto-currency created in 2009, the coins use encryption and a blockchain transaction database enabling fast and anonymous transfer of funds without centralized payment systems.
The numbers compiled by crypto-currency research firm Smith + Crown show how national regulators’ attempts to curb coin sales may just shift business elsewhere.
The United States leads with 34 digital currency start-up registrations so far this year, but that reflects Silicon Valley’s role as a technology hub and the depth of U.S. financial markets rather than a welcoming regulatory climate.
Singapore registered 21 entities, up from one in 2016, followed by 19 in Switzerland, up from three last year, according to Smith + Crown. Central Europe saw 14 companies registered this year, compared with one in 2016 and the Caribbean hosted 10, up from two last year.
“The data affirms our sense that Switzerland and Singapore remain go-to locations, but the U.S. could remain for companies raising large amounts of money,” said Matt Chwierut, Smith + Crown’s research director. -Reuters