In the middle of all the fuss about Bitcoin soaring Icarus-like for the sun, then crashing just as spectacularly before settling a little in recent days, you could be forgiven for missing this. It’s not your usual ICO for all kinds of reasons. This ICO has come from a stock exchange, and could represent the moment when cryptocurrencies truly stepped out of the shadows and became mainstream.

The Gibraltar Stock Exchange itself is a relative newcomer to the party, so you might expect them to want to do things a little differently. Established in 2014, and operating since 2015, it’s an EU-regulated stock market, offering all the usual services, and one important extra – it has a blockchain exchange.

If you’re not a cryptocurrency enthusiast, you’re probably still relatively wary of a coin you can’t put in your pocket, and which has no overview from a regulatory body. The beauty of an ICO at a stock exchange means that cryptocurrency is looking to the future – and legitimacy – with a view to bringing the sceptics well and truly on board.

The Gibraltar Stock Exchange currency will be called the ‘rock token’, and is eventually likely to have a variety of uses. Launched on a subsidiary of the stock exchange proper – called the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange – the rock tokens have already raised $21 million, with a second ICO stage expected to raise a further $6 million.

Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange

2017 was undoubtedly the year of the cryptocurrency, so it’s a smart and innovative move in equal measure for a stock exchange to get involved in digital financial transactions in this way. It is hoped that Gibraltar will become an international ‘crypto-harbour’ as a consequence, and potentially lead the way for blockchain exchanges becoming commonplace.

The past year has certainly made mainstream financial institutions and organisations take notice of cryptocurrency, and the fact that there’s money to be made.

However, there might be a problem here.

Brexit

Gibraltar is technically part of the UK. You might remember, as the polls closed and the votes were counted on the night of 23rd June 2016, Gibraltar was the first ‘British’ constituency to return a sound Remain vote – as well they might. The dispute between Britain and Spain over the Rock of Gibraltar has been going on for 300 years, and interestingly, centres particularly around the no-man’s land that is the runway for the airport.

The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (or GBX) is an EU-regulated exchange, and therefore subject to EU laws. It’s also a UK territory. As of 31st March next year, the UK will no longer be part of the EU, and the GBX will have one big headache of regulation to unpick. Transition period or no, it’s difficult to see how the problem of being in the UK – even though it’s off the edge of Spain – yet with an exchange regulated by the EU will pan out. At the time of writing, there are no deals and no plans, and all anyone can do is watch this space.