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Switzerland, Gibraltar, Malta Podium Finishers on Most Crypto-Friendly European List

Switzerland has come out on top in a BlockShow Europe study which ranks the most crypto-friendly European countries. Scored on their regulatory frameworks and blockchain related projects among other attributes, Gibraltar and Malta also ranked favorably.

Broad observations

In total, 48 European countries were examined for their existing regulations of initial coin offerings (ICOs) regulations, cryptocurrencies as a payment service and crypto taxation policies. Furthermore, the study took into consideration recent news stories and developments; this is due to ongoing advances in countries that do not yet regulate cryptocurrencies but have plans to do so.

With Gibraltar in second place and Malta third, Switzerland topped the charts ahead of the rest of the pack.

Home of the ‘Crypto Valley’

Switzerland is a crypto-friendly country thanks to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain projects such as the Ethereum Foundation and Shapeshift.

Backing this is the Crypto Valley Association, a government-supported and independent association that has pushed for favorable regulatory frameworks, which has attracted cryptocurrency-related projects from around the world. Blockchain startups and projects in Switzerland can benefit from low taxes, business-friendly regulations, and political stability.

Bitcoin News has recently reported a number of stories on Switzerland that contribute to the Swiss dominating the European charts. A national digital currency, aspirations to become a blockchain nation and heightened blockchain related business inquiries all display the incredible levels of blockchain innovation that can emerge from a crypto-positive country.

In second place, Gibraltar

Gibraltar has been showing great promise and is becoming another crypto-haven for blockchain projects. Innovative regulations and highly attractive business tax are critical factors as to why the British Overseas Territory ranked second in the study.

In late 2017, the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) made proposals for crypto-friendly regulations. Nicky Gomez, GFSC’s head of Risk and innovation told Reuters: “This is the first instance of a purpose-built legislative framework for businesses that use blockchain or distributed ledger technology.”

Additionally, Gibraltar reportedly had received “up to 200 applications” for ICOs ahead of the launch of its Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX); Bitcoin News has also previously reported that the GBX is moving boldly toward regulatory firsts.

Regarding taxation, Gibraltar is extraordinarily unrestrictive; there are no taxes on capital gains and entrepreneurs only have to pay income tax. It is little wonder that European and local blockchain startups are flocking to the country.

Third Place, Malta

The Mediterranean island of Malta is an interesting occupant of the third place position; proposals for new rules regarding cryptocurrency investment were made in late 2017 and in March of 2018, the Cabinet of Malta approved three bills that revolve around cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies. Furthermore, in April, Bitcoin News reported that the Prime Minister intended to have a “state-regulated cryptocurrency industry“.

It is also the new home to major exchange Binance, which will make Malta the territory with the most substantial cryptocurrency trading volume in the world. Binance announced the move to Malta in late March, likely in part due to Malta’s stance on taxation which allows international companies based on the island to pay as little as 5%.

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Kentucky Derby Is Open for Crypto on the Big Day

It has been widely reported that this year’s Kentucky Derby held on Saturday, 5 May will be attracting more cryptocurrency wagers that at any previous running of the famous race.

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race that is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is become an institution in the US, similar to the Grand National in the UK and the Melbourne Cup in Australia.

US Racing notes reports that Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin will feature in wagers far more prominently this year as punters rush to get a bet on the derby. This despite digital currency still needing further acceptance by betting companies. US Racing’s operations director Tim Maxwell notes:

“…both the legality and associated risk management of accepting cryptocurrency needs further clarification before we see widespread adoption in the gaming and racing industry as a whole.”

Maxwell suggests that the reluctance by companies to fully endorse the use of Bitcoin in the gaming and racing industry as a whole is its volatility, adding an unwanted layer of risk management. He does suggest, however, that companies based in the UK, Malta, and Canada are expected to accept Bitcoin payments on a trial basis by early to mid-2019, followed by land-based racebooks and casinos in late 2019 and early 2020.

A blockchain startup chain, Ethorse, allows punters to use ETH to back their favorite coin in the same way they would back a horse on the Kentucky Derby. Maxwell comments: “Punters will be game for a flutter on whether BTC will beat XRP in a match up or if ETH will win by a nose. Just because it is blockchain doesn’t preclude people from making a bet.”

The Crypto Currency Investors Club in US southern state Georgia enjoys it very first gathering of friends for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. It promises “…an artsy, derby themed Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency community event”. Attendees can enjoy a glass of mint julep, watch a live stream of the race and place a wager (Bitcoin of course) on one of the renamed “CryptoDerby” horses.

 

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Malta Gaming Authority Brings Blockchain Sandbox Reforms

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) issued a document looking to apply major reforms to the gaming industry in regards to the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The authority aims to bring new standards for game developers for accepting crypto payments, use of digital wallets, deposits, and the calculation of exchange rates.

The overhaul looks to change the current multi-license system to a more bespoke Business-to-Consumer (B2C) licence and a Business-to-Business (B2B) license.

MGA is looking to accept games hosted fully or partially in a blockchain environment. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) verification will determine if the game is fair and truly random. This is important in electronic gambling to protect customers and support anti-money laundering (AML) measures which are in line with the EU 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

Implementation

MGA is hoping to ease the implementation of the legislation by using a sandbox environment to test games which will be available to game developers. The final version of the environment is due to be rolled out to developers by 30 April. Only recently, Kik App was looking to collaborate with Unity Technologies to gain a wider adoption of its Kin cryptocurrency in the industry. The new legislation and layers of administration hope to bring security to jobs and player funds while still allowing for innovation and development in the industry.

Strengthened powers

Increased regulatory powers will provide strengthened supervision for areas which are a higher-risk profile to help combat money laundering and funding of terrorist. Automated reports will instil adherence to regulatory obligations. The MGA wants to stop manipulation of markets and encourage operators to monitor sports betting and report suspicious bets. More effective processes such as those dealing with appeal decisions will hope to streamline procedures for administrative and criminal offences.

These proposals are supported by various public consultations, technical studies and economic impact assessments, in conjunction with those of the National Anti-Corruption Task Force of which the authority is an active participant. The streamlining of taxation by exempting B2B licensees from gaming tax will increase Malta’s competitiveness these services.

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Malta: The Next Place For Crypto Startups?

Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat has recently revealed plans to reestablish several cryptocurrency businesses in his country’s jurisdiction. Malta already has pro-blockchain legislation and existing regulations around cryptocurrency, making this announcement an outreach for more cryptocurrency companies to locate in the Mediterranean country.

Muscat’s announcement came during a political rally in Mqabba last weekend, where he stated he was in ongoing discussions with potential investors in the sector. The prime minister relayed his interest for Malta to become the initial country to ”take the first step” and have a state-regulated cryptocurrency industry. He noted the numerous jobs that the sector would add to the economy, as well the advantage it would give the education sector for people who wished to pursue a career related to the industry.

Binance are doing it

Meanwhile, popular cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance announced plans to open an office in Malta. In January of this year, Binance produced the highest volume of exchanges of any other exchange platform. In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO of Binance Zhao Changpeng described Malta as ”very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech”.

Zhao went on to discuss the practical nature of the countries cryptocurrency legislation for businesses, describing it as ”logical and forward-thinking”, predicting Malta to be the next place for innovative blockchain companies to do business. Although not the first crypto company to headquarter in Malta, the transition hit the headlines because of the size and prominence of the company.

The Maltese prime minister made clear that companies would not be establishing themselves in the country for tax benefits, but because of the crypto-friendly legislation and welcoming capacity of the government.

Muscat’s call for cryptocurrency companies to headquarter in Malta follows the implementation of arguably lenient gambling legislation. The legislation executed was thoroughly constructed, successfully making the country an international gambling hub.

Considering the country’s previous success legislation for a strong gambling sector, progress so far indicates they will manage to achieve the same for blockchain companies.

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