Malta has continued to embrace the cryptocurrency sector with the launch of a fintech mentoring programme supported by Binance, another step toward establishing itself as the European blockchain hub.
Digital currency exchange Binance has announced it will support the Malta Stock Exchange in establishing a programme to advise cryptocurrency start-ups.
The MSX Fintech Accelerator Programme will see 12 blockchain companies mentored by the company, as part of Malta’s growing integration of fintech into its financial services.
“We moved our operations to Malta precisely because it has demonstrated its progressive approach to supporting and developing the crypto and blockchain industry,” said a Binance spokesperson.
“Malta is creating a safe and legislated environment for the industry to become reputable, attracting companies like ours and many others.”
The programme announcement follows an increasing focus on cryptocurrency for Maltese authorities, after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced in September 2017 his intention to make the archipelago “the blockchain capital of Europe.”
The 2007 EU Payment Services Directive and the 2009 EU Electronic Money Directive paved the way for Malta to build a cryptocurrency infrastructure, with the transposition of the 2015 EU Second Payment Services Directive enhancing the market’s potential.
The Malta Financial Services Authority announced in November 2017 its guidance on initial coin offerings, virtual currencies and related service providers, leading to the establishment of the Virtual Currency Act and a Digital Innovation Authority in January of this year.
Though no specific fintech regulatory controls have been enacted by the Maltese government as yet, Muscat stated that the MFSA is in policy discussions with industry stakeholders in order to bring consumers “peace of mind that there are people regulating this system.”
The Binance announcement follows reports in April that the company, currently ranked the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world due to daily trade volumes of over $1.2bn, was looking to relocate its headquarters to Malta following prohibitions in Japan and Hong Kong.
“Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech,” said Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng at the time.
Kris Marszalek, CEO of cryptocurrency wallet platform Monaco Card then added it was “looking into an investment in Malta following last week’s announcement by our strategic partner Binance.”
Malta’s welcoming attitude to developments in blockchain is set to continue attracting investment from fintech companies, who will also benefit from the country’s five percent corporate tax rate, 77 percent lower than the EU average.
The MSX fintech Accelerator Programme will begin accepting applicants within the next few months, with Binance praising the Malta Stock Exchange for “providing the infrastructure for entrepreneurs and start-ups to flourish in what is otherwise a highly competitive industry.”