Welcome to Malta – Blockchain Island

  • Editorial Team
  • April 23 2018
Malta - the blockchain island

Malta aims to become a leading cryptocurrency centre in Europe

While world governments take a defensive approach towards blockchain, Malta's planning to become the most crypto-friendly jurisdiction in Europe.

While the governments around the world are eyeing various cryptocurrencies suspiciously and with distrust, distancing themselves from them and even taking a restrictive approach, Malta, the smallest European nation, has set on a journey to become Europe’s blockchain centre.

Malta’s parliamentary secretary for financial services, digital economy, and innovation, Silvio Schembri, announced a distributed ledger technology regulation initiative. This initiative includes plans to establish the Malta Digital Innovation Authority which will be given the task of regulating the crypto market as well as creating an enabling environment that would encourage and attract more crypto investors into the country.

Malta’s prime-minister Joseph Muscat said he believes cryptocurrencies are “the inevitable future of money” and so the country is striving to take up a yet vacant position of a safe heaven and hotspot for cryptocurrencies, just like they have achieved with the gaming sector.

In 2004, Malta became the first EU Member State to enact comprehensive legislation on remote gaming, and now industry stakeholders consider Malta as one of the foremost tried and tested jurisdictions in the world.

Now the Maltese government intends to repeat the process for the cryptocurrency industry in the attempt to become a primary European jurisdiction for blockchain technology.

Malta’s Got the Global Blockchain Industry Interested

Investors and cryptocurrency companies perked their ears at the news.

One of the world’s most important cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance has announced it would be relocating to Malta. Having set offices and server locations in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the company, however, has been continuously encountering regulatory problems.

Malta is viewed by Binance as a chance of “fruitful collaboration with the government” to develop a friendlier yet regulated blockchain environment.

“After meeting with Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri, we were impressed by the logical, clear and forward-thinking nature of Malta’s leadership. After reviewing a proposal bill, we are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies, and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe. Binance is committed to lending our expertise to help shape a healthy regulatory framework as well as providing funds for other blockchain start-ups to grow the industry further in Malta.”
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance

Binance’s decision to relocate to Malta gained a lot of media attention and turned the spotlight on the island striving to become a digital currency hub. Other companies and blockchain entrepreneurs are getting interested.

OKEx, the number two ranked cryptocurrency exchange by 24 hour trading volume on CoinMarketCap, is setting up office in Malta, too.

“We look forward to working with the Malta government as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values: the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem.”
OKEx CEO Chris Lee

Justin Sun, CEO of Tron, a blockchain firm aiming to develop a worldwide free content entertainment system, on Monday shared his interest to invest and operate from Malta.

Kris Marszalek, CEO of Monaco Card, a cryptocurrency wallet platform, announced a similar interest to invest in Malta.

Berlin-based fundraising platform Neufund announced plans to participate in Malta’s blockchain ecosystem and provide on-the-ground support for the emerging sector.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted last week:

“In the last 2 weeks, I am aware of 20+ large cap crypto projects confirm establishing/moving/investing in Malta. There are probably more that I am not aware of. Let’s build a healthy and vibrant blockchain economy in Malta.”

As a result of the Maltese government proposal, a strong pro-blockchain atmosphere is emerging in the island. Because of its lenient tax policies, Malta is already extremely attractive to set up a business.

Now that the country seems to have taken a very progressive stance towards cryptocurrencies, it might well carve out a niche for itself as a leading financial technology centre of the future.

Read the original article on the Bloomberg Businessweek. © 2018. Follow Bloomberg Businessweek on Twitter