When you think of technologies like cryptocurrencies and blockchain, you’d expect countries like Japan, South Korea and China–prominent countries in the science and technology industry–to be in the forefront in developing the tech, and not some small island in the Mediterranean.
Situated just 60 miles south of Sicily is the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta and it is set to become The Blockchain Island.
Crypto Industry in General
The island nation is fairly new to the crypto scene as it had just started its research on blockchain technology in late 2016.
In April of 2017, the Cabinet approved the first draft of a national strategy to promote blockchain tech. Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he intends to make Malta one of the first countries to embrace the tech:
“I understand that regulators are wary of this technology but the fact is that it’s coming…We must be on the front line in embracing this crucial innovation, and we cannot just wait for others to take action and copy them. We must be the ones that others copy.”
In July 2017, Malta installed its first ever Bitcoin ATM.
In September, BitMalta, a group dedicated on raising awareness on cryptocurrency and blockchain tech, proposed ways the country could attract crypto-related businesses into setting up operations there.
Muscat mentioned that if even if just 1% of UK’s FinTech industry could be brought to Malta, it would bring a whopping €200 million to the local economy.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
The island nation is still developing a regulatory framework to cover all ICOs organized in Malta and it is still available for public input until May 5, 2018. It is a Financial Instrument test that would define when the tokens offered in ICOs are classified as securities.
The test will have three stages. According to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), this framework is a hybrid of existing EU regulations and national regulations.
The paper is available for viewing here.
Malta provides exchanges with a healthy, supportive environment in which to operate. The world took notice of Malta when Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume decided to move its operations there after having to deal with regulators in Hong Kong and Japan.
Binance was welcomed with open arms.
Welcome to #Malta 🇲🇹 @binance. We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies -JM @SilvioSchembri https://t.co/3qtAQjOpuQ
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) March 23, 2018
Just last week, the second largest crypto exchange moved to the island nation as well.
— OKEx (@OKEx_) April 12, 2018
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao makes mention in Twitter that he knows of “20+ large cap crypto projects” confirmed to be “establishing/moving/investing in Malta”.
The crypto mining craze in Malta kicked off last year but a IT company has already been selling bitcoin mining machines in the country since a year prior.
3 Group was the first company to sell crypto mining machines in the country. CEO Azzopardi said that the they didn’t really have a lot of sales at first since people weren’t all that interested in crypto mining yet and since the price of each machine is €2,500. But around September last year the company reported to have been selling around 30 machines each week.
Crypto companies commend the government for being so supportive of the industry. As a result, as with what Changpeng Zhao said, many companies are considering setting up operations in the country.
With its current stand on the crypto industry, there is no doubt the country will achieve its vision and goal to become The Blockchain Island.