With regards to the importance of the digital innovation aspect of domicile selection, given most firms now seek to domicile in locations that are considered tech leaders, the panellists addressed how Jersey is rising to this challenge and what it is doing to support growth in digital tech and digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The panellists agreed that Digital Jersey is playing a significant role to ensure Jersey is keeping abreast of digital developments.
“Digital Jersey is akin to Jersey Finance, but it focuses on the digital markets,” said Refson. “They recently put together an innovation fund to help support innovation, so the answer is that we have an organisation that is playing a key role.
“We touched earlier on the work I’m doing for the next step in our crypto journey by bringing together the managers within government, industry and the regulator to determine the next steps and ensure everyone is united. There’s a lot of work going around digital onboarding of clients. There’s huge support from all quarters on that, but it is a work in progress.”
Vardon confirmed that Sanne has looked at onboarding solutions, “as every other firm has, and there’s numerous different products that you can use out there now which helps support that”.
He added: “We’ve definitely seen Covid push forward the agenda on digitalisation. We’ve seen Docusign take over as the new way of completing transactions. Jersey is very much moving with the times with those kinds of initiatives. The JFSC is playing a big part in that too. It’s a member of the Global Financial Innovation Network, so it is very much keeping pace with industry demand.”
For Patton, the decision to roll out 1GB fibre broadband to every household and every business in Jersey before the first Covid-related lockdown is one of the reasons Jersey demonstrated such resilience throughout the pandemic.
Patton agreed that the investment in Digital Jersey is helping the organisation to take a number of steps. “They’re working closely with Locate Jersey, which is another government agency, to bring tech businesses to Jersey. Locate Jersey works with the population office, the tax office, and various other agencies in Jersey to smooth the transition of businesses, and there have been a number that have been brought over already.
“Hubble Ventures – a prolific tech investor – are also now based out of Jersey. They spend time with that tech community in Jersey, which has grown to about 3,000 professionals now centred around the DJ Hub in Grenville Street, St Helier.”
Digital Jersey has also been marketing ‘Sandbox Jersey’, according to Patton. “They’re advertising Jersey’s ‘walled garden’ of 100,000 tech-enabled citizens available to help test new technological innovations. Digital Jersey is also supporting tech start-ups through shared office space and meeting rooms at the DJ Hub and tech community and investor engagement. Digital Jersey is doing a fantastic job.”
Refson highlighted the other two areas that underpin the activity Patton referenced. “The first is the workforce in Jersey. With over 13,500 people in finance, there’s a depth and breadth of knowledge at all levels. But also, the one thing we haven’t mentioned is the infrastructure that Jersey has to support everything that we’ve touched on so far in this conversation. We have world-class infrastructure, including the previously mentioned 1GB fibre broadband and three independent 4G mobile networks – there are few IFCs that have the level of infrastructure, the level of technology that we have, so it’s worth underlining that point.”
Hernandez added that the infrastructure is part of Jersey’s cohesive government strategy and has been supported by government investment.