Malta green lights new cryptocurrency bill

Malta green lights new cryptocurrency bill

Malta’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to three separate bills relating to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, including measures that would introduce a framework for regulating cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Amongst the three bills, the Virtual Financial Assets Bill sought to create a structure for regulating ICOs and cryptocurrency transactions in the country, as part of a wider drive to make Malta more amenable to the cryptocurrency sector. The bill was presented alongside the Technology Arrangements and Services Bill, and the new Digital Innovation Authority Bill, ahead of a debate in the Maltese Parliament.

Following the debate phase, the bills will likely be voted through into law, according to local media reports.

Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, said he was confident the laws would provide legal certainty, with positive effects on the cryptocurrency sector in Malta.

“Once new laws surrounding blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are enacted in Malta, banks would be less reluctant to welcome companies working in the industry, presumably due to the legal certainty it would provide,” Schembri said, according to the Malta Independent.

The parliamentary secretary was also quoted by Malta Winds saying that regulating the cryptocurrency and blockchain market ensures “that the three main principles of financial regulation are adhered to,” resulting in a sector “that protects the investor and provides market integrity and financial soundness.”

Leading Maltese law firm Mamo TCV Advocates said the proposed laws would strengthen Malta’s hand as a hub for blockchain and ICOs.

The bills vest regulatory power in the Malta Financial Services Authority, which includes the power to publish specific rules relating to listings, to suspend trading and to require information on demand. Should the bills eventually be signed into law, they could pave the way for the new growth in Malta as a destination for blockchain companies and initial coin offerings.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Malta continues to forge ahead in blockchain sphere

Malta continues to forge ahead in blockchain sphere

The small country in the EU that punches above its weight is Malta, and it’s not looking back especially where the blockchain industry is concerned. After the announcements that Binance and OKEx will eventually be moving some of their operations to Malta, it appears that the country’s Financial Services Authority has come up with a proposal for a Financial Instrument Test, which should distinguish between what assets that come from initial coin offerings (ICOs) are actually securities. This should lend some authority and standing to the ICO market which has taken battering in recent months due to large number of scams and failed ventures.

Last week, the MFSA published a consultation paper and the general public has until May 5 to make representations. All this ties in with the announcement of the Virtual Financial Asset Act, which seeks to give some legal ground to the blockchain and ICO industries in Malta. Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy Silvio Schembri has been actively courting the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors in a drive to establish Malta as a blockchain hub.

Malta has consistently been in the news of late after the announcement of cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and OKEx that they’re moving to the island, although to be fair, there is still a lot of uncertainty over how this will actually happen. To date the local banking industry has remained very resistant to the cryptocurrency space and if Binance and OKEx want to operate a fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange, they will need a major bank to back them up. The turnover of both exchanges exceeds the $1 million mark a day, so it would have to be rather a large bank to be able to handle such transactions.

Incidentally the founder of digital currency Tron, Justin Sun, also waxed lyrical about Malta in a tweet. He congratulated Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on his vision to make Malta ‘the Blockchain Island’ whilst confirming his interest in bringing his TRON project to Malta. However, again, it is still not clear what Sun intends to set up in Malta yet. Cryptocurrencies and ICOs have come under intense scrutiny in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan so this strategy by the major players in the industry to announce moves to other jurisdictions could appear to be a diversionary tactic.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Malta attracts yet another cryptocurrency exchange—OKEx

Malta attracts yet another cryptocurrency exchange—OKEx

Hot on the heels of Binance declaring that it is coming to Malta, cryptocurrency exchange OKEx confirmed that it’s also setting its sights on the Mediterranean Island, which has proudly declared itself to be the “Blockchain Island.”

In a blog post on Thursday, OKEx announced that it was looking favourably at moving its operations to Malta since there was a lot of potential for the technology to move forward. Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy Silvio Schembri posed for a photograph with Tim Byun and Chris Lee, top officials of OKEx whilst tweeting the announcement.

“Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry. More specifically, Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem,” explained Tim Byun, chief risk officer and head of government relations at OKEx.

“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,” added OKEx CEO Chris Lee.

Incidentally, Malta has just proposed major anti-money laundering legislation which is expected to sail through the local Parliament. This continues to confirm the much vaunted hype behind the Mediterranean island of Malta, which has already secured a major coup with Binance founder Changpeng Zhao tweeting his support for further expansion in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries.

OKEx is currently based outside of Hong Kong and is operating from Japan, but has actively been considering a move from some time following regulatory clampdowns in the Asian country.

Malta, on the other hand, has begun actively courting cryptocurrency firms. Government officials have said that they want to transform the EU member state into a “Blockchain Island” through the passage of blockchain-friendly legislation.

The island saw the first major fruits of those efforts in March, as Hong Kong-based exchange Binance—currently the largest in the world—confirmed that it would move to Malta and not establish its base in Japan as previously planned.

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat personally welcomed the company to the region, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has said that he is aware of more than 20 cryptocurrency projects considering a move to Malta. Amongst these is the TRON project backed by Justin Sun, who has also tweeted his support for Malta’s ambitious moves in the region.

OKEx and Binance are not the only Hong Kong-based exchanges plotting to relocate their operations. Bitfinex, the sixth-largest cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly to move its headquarters to Switzerland.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance sets its sights on Malta

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance sets its sights on Malta

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by traded value, is planning to open an office in Malta, founder Zhao Changpeng confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg from Hong Kong.

The exchange, founded in Hong Kong last year, will soon start a “fiat-to-crypto exchange” on the European island nation and is close to securing a deal with local banks that can provide access to deposits and withdrawals, according to Zhao. The executive did not provide a timeframe.

The move could also be seen as an effort by Binance to escape serious regulatory issues which it encountered in China and Japan recently. Binance also suffered a number of hacks in the past weeks which somewhat dented its reputation. Zhao described Malta as “very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech.”

Binance’s move to Malta was also announced through a tweet by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and was further confirmed by Zhao in another tweet.

Worldwide regulators have been cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges and businesses since last year, leaving many like Binance struggling to find a permanent base. The company had an office in Japan and was trying to get a license to operate, but decided to remove its staff to avoid a clash with local regulators, Zhao said. Japan’s Financial Services Agency issued a warning to the venue on Friday for operating without approval. That news led to a crash in the price of several crypto currencies including Bitcoin.

The move to Malta comes as policymakers look for ways to promote the nation as a leader in the digital assets field. The government has held several public consultations on regulating virtual currencies, token sales and crypto exchanges. Plans for a Malta Digital Innovation Authority that will certify and regulate blockchain-based businesses and their operations were unveiled last month, the Malta Independent reported. The organization will also create a framework to oversee initial coin offerings, according to the report.

Zhao said he had recently been invited by the Maltese government to review an upcoming bill that was favourable to crypto businesses. Binance was ranked as the world’s top-ranked exchange by volume for the past 24 hours, trading about $1.7 billion, according to Coinmarketcap data.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Malta Blockchain Summit inaugural launch

Malta Blockchain Summit inaugural launch

Inspired by the recent initiation of Malta’s Virtual Currency Act, the Malta Blockchain Summit will be held for the first time this year on the 1st to 2nd November at the Malta InterContinental.

Boasting over 2000 delegates, 100 speakers and 150 sponsors and exhibitors, it promises to be an innovative and momentous opportunity for global influencers to network, forge new connections and debate the potential applications of Blockchain across a myriad of industries such as health, entertainment, government, and banking.

With the opportunity for custom built stands and packages at various competitive price points, exhibitors will be spoilt for choice. The pinnacle of which is the exclusive Platinum package which is cram-packed with tempting lures: such as a four-page interview with photo shoot and company profile in Blockchain Magazine, a double page advert and 20 hours of consultancy by Malta Blockchain Summit.

There are also exciting sponsorship deals to be found from a WiFi Sponsorship package  to the Exclusive Main Entrance package, all offering an unmissable chance to get your brand seen by the people that matter.

Delegates can expect their business to be sweetened with a much-anticipated Networking Poker Tournament, sumptuous evening meals, a decadent Champagne Brunch, and a Rum & Cigar Night –all scheduled on and around these dates.

The agenda for the event will also include a Hackathon and a riveting ICO pitch. The pitch will see 10 start-up hopefuls pitch their projects, followed by an interactive question and answer session between audience and investors.

Closing Night will offer a welcome opportunity to unwind, relax, and celebrate the culmination of a successful summit.  Delegates will have the opportunity to experience the limpid Mediterranean waters and ancient, craggy coastline through a Crypto Cruise followed by an enviously luxurious crypto party.

An illustrious melting pot of global speakers has already been confirmed to take part, including prominent individuals such as: Carla Maree Vella , James Catania, Max Krupyshev, Gordon Einstein, Alex Lightman, Joseph Cuschieri, Sally Eaves,  Tugce Ergul, Karl Schranz, Pavel Kravchenko and Vince Vella.

Peruse the floor plan to this event and check further opportunities when you visit www.maltablockchainsummit.com

Tickets are to go on sale early May, but with ticket reservations already generating a marked interest, it’s worth booking early to avoid disappointment.

Malta looking to be the first to regulate blockchain tech

Malta looking to be the first to regulate blockchain tech

The government of Malta has launched a policy document which seeks to set up the Malta Digital Innovation Authority alongside other legislation to provide legal certainty in the sphere of blockchain technology and, by extension, cryptocurrencies.

In a conference with various stakeholders, Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Economy Silvio Schembri explained that this “historic moment” for Malta will be tackled in three steps.

Step one deals with setting up the authority, step two deals with launching a bill that will set out the regime for the registration of “technology service providers” and the certification of “technology arrangements.” Lastly, step three will launch a bill that will set out the framework for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and the regulatory regime on the provision of certain services in relation to virtual currencies. The only area which the document does not appear to cover for the moment is the regulation of cryptocurrency investments.

ICOs are ways for new digital currencies to create financing by offering investors the new currency in exchange for other established ones such as legacy Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum.

The intermediaries subject to the virtual currency bill include brokers, exchanges, wallet providers, asset managers, investment advisors and market makers dealing in virtual currencies (to be issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority).

Blockchain technology forms part of the wider Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and has so far not been regulated by any institution or body around the world. It is a technology that is an ever-growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using something called ‘cryptography’. Each record has a link with the previous record, or block, and contains a timestamp as well as transaction data.

Once the record is issued with a timestamp, it is not possible to alter or tamper with that information. While this new technology is difficult to grasp for the majority of people, in practice it could potentially bypass lengthy procedures in day-to-day life.

For instance, a music band could use DLT platforms such as blockchain to eliminate the need for intermediaries to receive royalty payments whenever somebody downloads their music. Transactions will occur across a peer-to-peer network, and are computed, verified and recorded using an automated consensus method.

The role of a Malta Digital Innovation Authority will take various forms. However, one of the key functions would be to certify DLT platforms which provides legal certainty for companies or people who wish to make use of them.

Currently, if a company wants to make use of a DLT platform to effect cross-border payments in order to cut out central authorities and make the process less expensive and more efficient, it will have to make use of a platform that is not certified in any way.