Category Archives: Malta

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€3 Million Palazzo Mansion in Malta Can Only Be Purchased with Bitcoin

The EUR 3 million Palazzo mansion in Valletta, the capital of Malta, is being sold for Bitcoin only.

The current price tag of BTC 550 is unique since it would be the biggest crypto real estate transaction in Malta’s history, a nation which has been called Blockchain Island. Additionally, in the past large real estate deals that allowed Bitcoin also allowed fiat but this time, only Bitcoin is allowed.

The organizers of the sale of the Palazzo, CryptoHomes.io, are trying to specifically make a point that cryptocurrency is a good mechanism to conduct a real estate trade, which is why they are not accepting fiat. Dennis Avorin from CryptoHomes.io says, “Crypto is here to stay and we want to showcase that cryptocurrencies are not only commodities for speculators but also a means to purchase solid assets. Purchasing real estate with crypto is like purchasing real estate with fiat – the same due diligence and rules apply. We simply want to promote the use of crypto as a vehicle for solid investments and Malta is a great start with the incredibly strong real estate market that we have seen in the past few years. With the launch of Blockchain Island, we are certain that this trend will strengthen even further.”

Indeed, cryptocurrency can be used like any other currency, like the USD or EUR, to purchase real estate, except with some advantages. Bitcoin can be transferred instantly, much faster than the typical long wait times when sending large amounts of fiat with a wire. Additionally, Bitcoin is cryptographically secure and can’t be hacked by even the most powerful supercomputer, which is a critical characteristic that ensures safety when dealing with such large amounts of money.

One downside is Bitcoin can be volatile, with fluctuations of 5-10% in a day being common. However, that can be remedied by using a service like BitPay which instantly converts the Bitcoin to fiat at the time of sale. This comes with a fee, however, and this can end up being substantial when transacting such large amounts of money.

This wouldn’t be the biggest Bitcoin real-estate transaction in history. That title goes to a 7-bedroom Miami mansion worth USD 6 million that was sold for 455 Bitcoins near the peak of the Bitcoin rally which saw Bitcoin hit USD 20,000. A mansion in Rome, the Palazzetto which is worth USD 44 million, is also being offered for Bitcoin but fiat is an option as well.

 

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University of Malta Announces Blockchain Scholarship Fund

A EUR 300,000 blockchain scholarship has been announced on the island of Malta in a partnership between the University of Malta and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA).

Scholarship fund

As reported by local news outlet Times of Malta on 29 August, the fund will be allocated to students who specialize in ICT, law, finance and engineering. Split over three years and starting this academic year, students can apply to the scholarship and start blockchain- and DLT-related Masters and PhD research dissertations.

Dr Silvio Schembri, digital economy parliamentary secretary, said, “These companies need technical resources both to build and to operate by use of this technology, as well as experts in financial services, law and managerial roles”.

This year, Malta has been a prominent entity for the growth of the blockchain industry and community. Passing accommodating blockchain and cryptocurrency laws in July, becoming the new home of digital currency exchange giant Binance and topping the charts for initial coin funding gains are just occurrences in Malta that signify a blockchain-centric future for the island.

With education now being introduced as part of the nation’s blockchain-friendly infrastructure, blockchain companies will find it hard not to be attracted to Malta’s shores. According to the Times of Malta article, Dr Schembri is positively anticipating scholarship beneficiaries occupying “important posts” in the sector.

University of Malta rector Alfred Vella also described a plan to internally exercise and review other degrees and Master’s programs such as law and finance ICT to include units connected to DLT, blockchain, AI, fintech and regulatory technology.

According to MITA executive chairman Tony Sultana, the agency is presently making inroads with other educational institutions to get a similar program going. Further to this, public sector employees are receiving training with the tech.

Education for the next generation

Interestingly, Malta already has a blockchain degree in the works, which is part of civil servant training and will be on offer later this year.

The topic of blockchain education and degrees is becoming a familiar one; there is a global movement presently taking place that is attempting to apprehend a world heavily involved with blockchain technology.

A recent report found that 42% of the top 50 universities in the world are offering “at least” one course on blockchain technologies or cryptocurrencies. The findings were from a Coinbase survey that highlighted an increase in courses as well as a growing interest from students in a “range of majors”.

 

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Pro-Bitcoin Maltese PM Targeted by Crypto Fraudsters

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Malta’s pro-cryptocurrency prime minister, has been the subject of a recent Instagram scam.

Muscat was targeted by conmen using his name to open a fake Instagram account, in an attempt to promote a Bitcoin investment scheme.

The fake account quickly attracted around 1,300 followers with the promise of “enormous return on investments within a month’s time”. A suggestion that potential investors should contact a “Wang Wei” was made using Prime Minister Muscat’s name, but then the account was quickly removed from Instagram.

Muscat has long been an advocate of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, pushing Malta into the forefront of the industry taking it to third most “crypto-friendly” nation, according to a BlockShow Europe study earlier this year.

Not only is the small country planning to host the world’s first regulation-ready decentralized bank, but Malta’s PM has openly expressed a desire for his country to become the world’s number one blockchain hub.

The island has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business there due to its positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation, linked to a strong economy. It also boasts the largest cryptocurrency trading volume in the world, according to Morgan Stanley. With this new legal-certainty status for cryptocurrencies, the country’s claim as another European “crypto haven” to rival Switzerland may be well founded.

The using of prominent names to set up fake schemes has been particularly popular in the UK of late with a number of TV celebrities being targeted. One is the subject of a legal case against Facebook after money saving expert Martin Lewis was targetted. Alan Sugar, British entrepreneur and presenter of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’, told the UK’s Mail on Sunday that scam cryptocurrency deals targeting celebrities were becoming a routine for many prominent business people.

Others who have suffered damage to their reputations due to crypto crime including Bill Gates, Virgin Boss Richard Branston, and BBC Dragon’s Den’s panel member Deborah Meaden.

 

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Malta Makes Huge ICO Funding Gains as Crypto Investment Funds Rise in 2018

New crypto funds are continuing to open despite a falling market and apprehension over ETF decisions, according to the latest analysis from Crypto Fund Research.

With things seeming to go well for crypto funds, collectively amassing $7.1 billion, they still lag behind traditional hedge funds, with most of the institutional investment managers playing a wait and see scenario. Cryptocurrencies’ next big hurdle, now that digital currencies are very much out there in the financial sector, is to start encouraging institutional investment on a larger scale.

It is thought that 2018 will see more crypto hedge funds arrive on the scene, which is on target to reach 165, nine more than in 2017. Statistics show that until July 31 of this year, there were 96 new crypto hedge funds and venture capital funds with more than half of those existing today being launched in the past 18 months.

There are currently 466 crypto funds across the globe with San Francisco, New York, Singapore and London topping the list for 2018 launches. In addition, Austin, Dallas, Hong Kong, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tokyo, and Zug are not far behind in terms of multiple launches of crypto hedge funds and capital ventures since January this year.

In terms of ICOs, launches have also accelerated this year to date, also seemingly undeterred by a bear market. However, 50 percent of all projects in 2018 have failed to raise more than £100,000. This low figure was put down to investors concerns about scams

Service tokens accounted for 42 percent of new ICOs, but utility tokens attracted the most funding at $22 million per project, followed by crypto tokens at an average of $7 million.

Another hurdle for new ICOs remains that problem of getting projects listed on exchanges, which has become an increasingly lengthy process. The number of projects that managed to get listed in the shortest possible time fell by 22 percent this year, due in part to tougher exchange requirements and new regulatory demands.

In overall terms, 2018 has been 10 times better than the previous year for ICOs, according to a market status report published by ETF on August 8, with more money being raised and more ICOs being launched in the second quarter of the year.

A notable fact coming out of the report is that small nations are winning in terms of making the largest gains, with Malta, Gibraltar, and Singapore coming out on top. Malta raised an average of £119 million, almost twice the funds raised by second on the list Gibraltar. Other statistics show that although it is clearly European nations that are making the largest gains in terms of overall fundraising, North America is still the crypto giant at $4.98 billion with 116 projects, a huge 65 percent of all the funding raised. Europe came in second at $1.12 billion, with Asia coming in third with $751 million.

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Gibraltar Pro Football Team Paid in Crypto as “The Rock” Pushes Fintech Forward

Gibraltar is living up to its growing reputation as a European driving force in cryptocurrency adoption as a premier league football team shows a willingness to be paid in digital currency.

Gibraltar United’s owner Pablo Dana, who is an investor in the digital currency Quantacoin, hopes that the move will encourage foreign players who will easily be able to set up banking in Gibraltar, and suggests that it could also go some way to stamping out corruption in the game.

Dana is impressed with Gibraltar’s forward-thinking approach to cryptocurrency within its push to promote fintech on the island. He commented:

“It was the first [place that] regulated betting companies 20 years back when everyone was seeing them as horrible…They put compliance and anti-money laundering regulations and created a platform – they have the intelligence to do the same with cryptocurrencies.”

Introducing crypto payments for footballers would essentially be via the blockchain and free from taxes and charges, ending illegal payments to clubs or middlemen. In January, an amateur Turkish side, Harunustaspor, became the world’s first football team to complete a transfer using just cryptocurrency.

There are numerous advantages to integrating cryptocurrencies into sporting salary schemes, apart from reducing the frequency of cash-under-the-table deals as Italian-born Dana alludes to. Consequently, the London Football Exchange (LFE) is looking into token-based schemes. Head of partnerships for the LFE wants to create just such a community in order to “enable clubs to have a direct connection with fans in a frictionless marketplace”.

As a result, the LSE has announced agreements with two teams, Italian team Bari and Madrid based Alcobendas, whereby fans can buy into the clubs using cryptocurrency to gain some equity, as well as a say in the clubs’ future.

Gibraltar aims to lure new and existing fintech companies to its shores, following in the footsteps of other European countries such as Malta and Switzerland, both of which have seen the arrival of major cryptocurrency players Binance and Bitmain in recent months. A subsidiary of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) is aiming to become one of the first licensed and regulated crypto exchanges operated by an EU stock exchange.

 

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Moon Zebra Launches Malta’s First Two-Way Bitcoin ATM

Moon Zebra has installed the first two-way Bitcoin ATM in Malta. The two-way Bitcoin ATMs allow users to both buy Bitcoin with fiat and to convert Bitcoin back to fiat, and are far rarer than typical one-way Bitcoin ATMs that only allow users to buy Bitcoin with fiat. Even though this is only the 4th Bitcoin ATM installed in Malta, it is a major positive step for Malta, which has been called ‘Blockchain Island’ by many for its extremely favorable stance towards crypto and blockchain companies, including giving the world’s biggest crypto exchange Binance a fiat bank account.

Two-way Bitcoin ATMs are essential for the global adoption of Bitcoin as a currency, allowing users to quickly and easily move money between fiat and crypto. Now people in Malta who are paid with Bitcoin by their jobs can easily turn their Bitcoin into cold hard cash and use it to buy food, necessities, and pay rent

According to Coin ATM Radar, there are 1,256 two-way Bitcoin ATMs in the world versus 2,218 one-way Bitcoin ATMs, as of this writing on 15 July 2018. A two-way Bitcoin ATM provides all the functionality of a cryptocurrency exchange and is much faster. Typically it takes several days to convert Bitcoin into fiat when using a cryptocurrency exchange, and it requires a bank account. Bitcoin ATMs are nearly instant, usually requiring 1 confirmation which takes about 10 minutes before dispensing cash for deposited Bitcoin. Also, Bitcoin ATMs don’t require a bank account, making them the only option for unbankable Bitcoin users besides Bitcoin dealers.

Although Bitcoin ATMs typically charge higher fees than a cryptocurrency exchange for both buying and selling, on the order of 5-10%, the time saved is worth it. This is especially true since the near instant nature of Bitcoin ATMs protect users from market volatility; Bitcoin price fluctuations can easily exceed 5% in a day and sometimes even 10%, so it is worth a fee to make an instant Bitcoin to fiat transaction.

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Malta Pioneers the Future of Blockchain, Introduces First Ever Decentralized Bank Backed by Binance

The Mediterranean island of Malta is set to become a key component of blockchain and cryptocurrency innovation and evolution. There are plans for the world’s first decentralized bank to be built regulation-ready, in the future blockchain hub of the world.

A Decentralized Bank

In a Bloomberg report on July 12th, cryptocurrency exchange giant Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao were said to be backing the world’s first decentralized bank named the ‘Founders Bank’.

A unique characteristic of the bank will see that it owned in parts; Founders Bank will be issuing a “legally-binding equity token” offering through a blockchain-based equity fundraising platform called Neufund.

According to comments made by Binance on Bloomberg, Binance has taken a five percent stake alongside other anchor investors at a 133 million-euro ($155 million) pre-money valuation.

However, the Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat remains sanguine in the face of these hurdles, saying in a recent speech describing the countries future, “The concept sounds confusing right now, but I have no doubt that it will form the base of a new economy in the future. Just as we attribute value to pieces of paper, so too will future generations attribute value to electronic storage systems.”

The equity-token sale would be a collaboration with a major European stock exchange and conducted under German regulations, though the exchange at present has not been named.

Motions in Malta

In March of this year, Binance announced plans to move its operations to Malta; this came after rigorous reviews of several other potential locations and conclusively, the European island proved itself worthy of the largest crypto exchange in the world.

On July 4th, Malta passed three bills into law that legalized cryptocurrency businesses, making it the first ‘legal certainty’ country for the industry. The island has been especially bullish on crypto for quite some time; proposals for new rules regarding cryptocurrency investments were made in late 2017 and by March 2018 the three recently passed bills were entered into debate.

Bullish Lawmakers

Cointelegraph spoke to Simon Chembri, (13th July), a partner at Ganado Advocates — a leading law firm in Malta which was a critical component during the drafting of the new legislation. He comments, “The purpose was to make Malta a blockchain hub, attracting a number of investments in the country.”

Which is simple enough, however he also gave bullish comments on the legitimization of distributed ledger technology (DLT), blockchains, ICOs, crypto assets etc. by the Malta Digital Innovation Authority, saying, “It gives the opportunity for DLT frameworks at the outset to come over to Malta and voluntary, — if they want — register, or have their DLT framework licensed or certified by this new authority…”

Later adding in regards to a national cryptocurrency, “At this stage, there is nothing set as an agenda by the Maltese government. But we are aware that other countries are considering this and have already taken steps. And we would not be surprised if that would be the next step.”

Ranked third most ‘crypto-friendly’ nation by a BlockShow Europe study earlier this year, it would be no surprise to see Malta reach and hold the top spot should the study be conducted again after the Founders Bank is launched.

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Binance Announces Plans to Create First Decentralized Tokenized Bank in Malta

Binance in Malta is backing plans to create a blockchain-based bank with tokenized ownership, according to Crowdfund Insider.

The world’s second largest crypto exchange had already announced its move to Malta in March and has set up a bank account on the island, thus demonstrating that Malta is moving ahead with industry-friendly regulations to facilitate its plans to become a major cryptocurrency hub.

The blockchain-based financial institution which will be known as the “Founders Bank” will become the world’s first decentralized, community-owned bank, and participants will be issued with “legally binding equity tokens” in return for their investment.

The blockchain-based equity fundraising platform Neufund will issue the tokens. The German-based company which has a base in Malta but retains its HQ in Germany, is said to have raised USD 11 million from well-known investors in 2017. Binance and Neufund are also reported to be partnering with one of Europe’s main stock exchanges later this year, although no names have been thrown into the hat as yet.

Binance Tweeted on its plans for the new bank:

“Founders Bank will become the first stable high-tech banking solution, not only focused on founders but also owned by them, bridging the gap between traditional financial world and innovative crypto companies.”

The bank’s first step will be to seek a licence from Maltese regulators. Malta has already approved three DLT and crypto-related bills which pave the way for new businesses to the island. Silvio Schembri, Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation within the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta, stated that the island “is honoured to be chosen as the location of the first global community-owned bank”. He added:

“We welcome Founders Bank with the utmost excitement and hope that their Fintech solutions will attract even more world-class companies to our Blockchain Island.”

Schembri is known for being the leading advocate on Malta for pursuing an innovation economy build on blockchain and Fintech development.

Binance also recently opened a new crypto-fiat trading platform in Uganda, which supports the Ugandan shilling, alongside major cryptocurrencies.

 

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Malta Double Dips with World’s First “Convertible” ICO and New Blockchain Degree

Malta-based company Palladium is to launch the world’s first “initial convertible coin offering” (ICCO) with two partners including Bittrex, writes Cointelegraph.

An ICCO is a different concept to an ICO as in this case investors will have the option to convert their assets into company shares in the future. Palladium has stipulated a three-year wait until conversion.

Palladium has confirmed that it wishes to build an exchange in crypto-friendly Malta and will also seek acquisition of a controlling interest in a European bank using 85% of the funds raised from the ICCO along with “strategic investments in financial services and blockchain companies complementing Palladium’s business”. The rest will be used to build the new Maltese exchange.

The company has indicated that the ICCO will see a distribution of USD 150 million in tokens scheduled to begin on 25 July. Founder and co-chairman Paolo Catalfamo commented:

“We expect this project, which will create more than 100 job opportunities, to be a historic landmark and to bridge the gap between traditional financial services and cryptocurrencies.”

In other news from the country, the University of Malta has just announced that it will now offer a blockchain degree as part of civil servant training later this year.

The initiative which was announced last year and will have taken a year to implementation was partly due to criticism that the government hadn’t done enough to offer the young the necessary skills to join the burgeoning block train industry in the country.

This move reflects global trends in IT education around the world which are generally taking on board cryptocurrency and blockchain courses, the latest being the London School of Economics, one of the leading academic institutions for higher learning in the world.

This latest of courses by another well-established institution will cost GBP 1,800, (about USD 2,400) and offers 60 hours of study, after which graduates will become certified crypto academics.

 

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Malta Passes New Laws to Claim World’s First Nation with Crypto Certainty

Malta has officially passed three bills into law to legalize cryptocurrency businesses in the country, claiming to make it the world’s first nation to provide legal certainty to the cryptocurrency field, according to Bitcoinist.

The bills passed their fourth and final reading on 4 July and as Bitcoin News reported recently, the bills are aimed at further regulation of cryptocurrencies. The three bills fall into three categories as follows:

-ICOs will now need to publish a white paper with fully transparent financial history details of the issuer for each new project needing funding through the Virtual Financial Assets Act.

-An industry-specific body will be sent up in order to support the deployment of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act which will promote the development of visions, skills, and other qualities relating to technology innovation.

– The Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Act will facilitate blockchain-based enterprises being recognized as such under the law, and as such will be the basis for the previous two bills to operate.

New exchanges now know exactly what government requirements are before setting up a cryptocurrency business or exchange in Malta. Silvio Schembri, Malta’s Junior Minister for Financial Services, commented that companies can now operate in a fully regulated environment, which should attract more investment to the country’s already burgeoning cryptocurrency space.

Poland’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bitpay announced this year that it was suspending its activities there. Due to lack of cooperation from Polish banks, the exchange announced that its BitBay operations were moving to Malta. Another coup for the country was the announcement that Binance had successfully opened a bank account there and would be operating from September 2018.

Malta has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business there due to the island’s positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation, linked to a strong economy. It also boasts the largest cryptocurrency trading volume in the world, according to Morgan Stanley. With this new legal-certainty status for cryptocurrencies, the country’s claim as another European “crypto haven” to rival Switzerland may be well founded.

 

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