Indian nations + crypto + blockchain: creating special economic zones on native land

John Koetsier
2 min readMay 7, 2022

Casinos and hotels? How about crypto and blockchain …

There are over 500 casinos on Native American tribal lands in the United States, plus numerous other businesses that benefit from special regulation in special jurisdictions. Soon, that list of businesses could include startups in the crypto, blockchain, and fintech spaces.

It already does in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

25 miles south of Charlotte, Rock Hill county is home to just over 100,000 people, including the Catawba Indian Nation. And that nation has just sent up a special economic zone with regulatory certainty for web3, crypto, blockchain, and fintech companies that they might not find anywhere else in the U.S.

“What the Catawba are building is a special economic zone,” the CEO of the Catawba Digital Economic Zone, Joseph McKinney, told me recently on the TechFirst podcast. “A special economic zone is an area within the host government that has different laws or legal codes and regulations that make it attractive for businesses to relocate there. And traditionally that has been done physically, you usually set up an office or some sort of a physical building within that zone. But with the zone that the Catawba are building here, what they need to do is register virtually to set up a company. And by doing that, they get to enjoy the legal codes and regulations of that special economic zone.”

Think e-Residency in Estonia, for example …

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John Koetsier

Senior contributor @ Forbes. Host of the TechFirst podcast. Find me here: https://johnkoetsier.com