Malta passes laws to implement ‘Blockchain Island’ plans

July 05, 2018
Chris Wheal

Malta has taken further steps in its aim of becoming a major blockchain hub by passing into law three bills that will provide a legal and regulatory framework for the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that underpins cryptocurrency transactions.

Malta builds ‘blockchain island’ with regulatory framework: Shutterstock

The first two bills – the Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Bill and the Virtual Financial Assets Bill, provide for the regulation of blockchain technology and crypto assets under the scrutiny of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority.

The third bill sets out the legal framework under which the Malta Digital Innovation Authority will operate.

Blockchain Island

Informally known as “Blockchain Island” the project to set up a digital hub in Malta has been overseen by Silvio Schembri, junior minister for financial services, digital economy and innovation.

Following the passing of the three bills, he tweeted: “The three Bills that will regulate distributed ledger technology (DLT) have been approved by Parliament and enacted into law. Malta, the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty to this space.”

Joseph Muscat, prime minister of the Mediterranean island nation, added: “Officially the first country worldwide to have a holistic framework regulating blockchain and DLT. We will be the global hub for market leaders in this new sector. Now for the implementation of Blockchain Island.”

Exchanges set up offices

Several blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses had already located offices in Malta in recent weeks in anticipation of the legislation being passed.

Cryptocurrency exchanges Binance, OKEx and BitBay were among the first to establish offices on the island.

Binance said in a statement after its move last month: “We moved our operations to Malta precisely because it has demonstrated its progressive approach to supporting and developing the crypto and blockchain industry.

“Malta is creating a safe and legislated environment for the industry to become reputable, attracting companies like ours and many others.”

Meanwhile, Chris Lee, chief executive of OKEx said earlier this week: “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.”

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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