Sun, sea and blockchain in the Mediterranean: Malta's offer to become a paradise for cryptocurrencies


The prime minister of Malta is doubling the boom in the blockchain industry in an attempt to diversify the smallest economy in the European Union – and even to fight corruption.

"We are taking a calculated risk," said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. in an interview on Monday, cutting "layers of bureaucracy" and offering accelerated endorsements for digital players to open stores on the island.

With rates below 5%, the government has recently passed laws that seek to facilitate trade and the issue of cryptocurrencies. The Malta Stock Exchange is also in talks with companies to list digital assets.

Is China cracking down on cryptocurrencies?

The aggressive steps to becoming one of the friendliest jurisdictions in the world seem to work.

Crypto The Binance exchange, founded last year in Hong Kong and now one of the largest, said in March that it will move to Malta after regulators in Asia have repressed virtual money. The island is acquiring a share of oversized cryptocurrency, according to research by Morgan Stanley, while Binance is working with other investors to create Founders Bank – an institution that serves digital customers registered in the island.

"We have tourism, we have the service sector, we have finance and games," said Silvio Schembri, parliamentary secretary for financial services, the digital economy and innovation. The country is collaborating with the auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers for the launch of blockchain licenses for regulated entities, which will be released in November.

Regulatory scrutiny continues worldwide on digital trading platforms, also thanks to customer protection concerns. The same applies to the control over the recent economic success of Malta, clouded by concerns about money laundering

China has seen a sixfold increase in new companies with "blockchain" in the name

The European Banking Authority has recently stated that the Maltese observatory has violated the anti-money laundering rules after concluding that the Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit failed to conduct an effective & # 39; supervision of the Pilatus Bank.

"I see the blockchain as a technology that is part of a solution when it comes to due diligence and anti-money laundering procedures," Muscat said. "We are quite aware of the problems of AML across Europe and I do not think it can be stuck on a particular country like Malta."

There is a great disparity over how the financial authorities consider cryptocurrencies. In February, the French authorities applied strict reporting standards and banned electronic advertising, while Swiss officials are competing to become a "crypt nation". China, for its part, banned the initial supply of coins and curbed local trade. The United States has dragged its feet to clarify the legislation.

"In the same way we have defined our regulation when it comes to online games, we are able to take the lead in all of this," said Muscat. "I think we can replicate in this sector too, where the EU will eventually do what we are doing right here today."

While future regulation remains uncertain, those on the ground remain optimistic. In a recent dinner in Malta with politicians and bankers, Michael Bianchi, the president of the Founders Bank supported by Binance, toasted the future of Malta, calling it "Blockchain island".

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