Malta prime minister underpins drive to create Blockchain Island

September 11, 2018
Chris Wheal

Malta is pushing an increasingly aggressive agenda to attract fintech start-ups in its bid to become “Blockchain Island”.

Malta forges business-friendly landscape for fintech start-ups

Malta may be the European Union’s smallest economy, but it is punching above its weight in its efforts to win trade from growth sectors such as blockchain and other digital economy firms.

Binance move

One of the biggest names in the sector, crypto exchange Binance, announced its move to the island in March after its native China banned trade in cryptocurrencies and other countries in Asia tightened regulations governing digital asset exchanges.

It was closely followed by rival trading platform Coinvest in April and BitBay moved soon after – all attracted by Malta’s 5% corporate tax rate and crypto-friendly regulatory framework.

Indeed, the country recently passed three laws intended to ease the trading and issuance of digital assets.

Calculated risk

“We’re taking a calculated risk,” said Joseph Muscat, prime minister in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, talking about how his administration has cut bureaucracy and facilitated relaxed regulatory approval for fintech businesses to start up.

Malta is seeing increasing competition, however. Switzerland’s Zug canton is also striving to build a blockchain-friendly environment for start-ups.

Both Malta and Zug look attractive to blockchain and crypto start-ups not just because their legislation is relaxed, but because it is clear.

US drags feet

The US, by comparison, has repeatedly dragged its feet on clarification of crypto regulations – major concerns being fraudulent activity such as money-laundering and scamming.

“I see blockchain as a technology being part of a solution when it comes to due diligence and anti-money laundering procedures,” Muscat told Bloomberg, “We’re quite aware of AML issues all across Europe and I don’t think it can be pinned down on one particular country such as Malta.”

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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