Category Archives: Malta

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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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Five Small Countries Build Solid Foundations with Big Crypto Ambitions

Five small countries are becoming cryptocurrency beacons impacting on the space through growth and innovation, writes Benzinga.

Georgia with its population of 4 million, once a USSR member state, has minimal regulations regarding cryptocurrency with a booming mining community. Ranked at the end of 2017 as second by volume of countries mining crypto by Cambridge University research, much of the success is down to affordable electricity through hydropower.

The future looks bright for Georgian crypto enthusiasts. This affordability means that enthusiastic miners can make a living with low power overheads. Luka Kobeli, co-founder of blockchain company Blockmentor agrees, suggesting “everything about the way the economy functions is going to change” through blockchain and cryptocurrency in Georgia.

Thailand is another of Asia’s countries managing to launch itself into the region’s vibrant blockchain environment. Thailand Post made the announcement that it was to use blockchain in 2017 using a blockchain tracking system. At the beginning, of 2017 the country’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency pushed for legislation calling for the support and use of blockchain-powered smart contracts.

So popular is cryptocurrency in Thailand that education is becoming a priority. Recently, the Thai Fintech Association launched the Cryptoasset Revolution (CAR) course offering to provide participants a complete understanding and knowledge about investing in crypto assets and initial coin offerings in three months of courses running through the summer.

Malta has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business, not only due to the island’s positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation, but also its strong economy.

The announcement that crypto exchange giant Binance has now made Malta home, followed by similar plans from rival exchange OKEX, German blockchain firm Neufundand and gaming platform The Abyss, have received recent media attention, causing over-regulated companies to consider their options.

“I understand that regulators are wary of this technology but the fact is that it’s coming. We must be on the frontline 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,” maintains Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat.

In Liechtenstein, an entrepreneur can start a company without a bank account, and BTC or ETH will fulfill government requirements. This liberal approach to cryptocurrency is rarely seen; even crypto-friendly Switzerland has its limitations, and banks there have been no friends to VCs.

Yanislav Malahov did exactly that, founding his Aeternity blockchain company using ETH to the tune of CHF 50,000. The capital Vaduz holds monthly blockchain meetings and a huge bonus for residents is the country’s membership of the European Economic Area, but not the EU, allowing crypto businesses to trade freely across Europe.

Nicosia in Cyprus is home to one of the first Universities offering programs in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The University of Nicosia, Cyprus, announced that it would offer the world’s first Masters program in digital currency back in 2013. The postgraduate course was aimed at financial services professionals claiming it was designed to:

“…help financial services and business professionals, entrepreneurs, government officials and public administrators better understand the technical underpinnings of digital currency…”

 

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Binance Acquires Maltese Bank Account, Plans Fiat Functionality Within a Year

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced that it has successfully opened a bank account in Malta. The CEO of Binance, Zhao Chengpeng, says that fiat to cryptocurrency trading will be launched within a year on the exchange.

Binance is the top cryptocurrency exchange in the world by volume with USD 1.5 billion of trading in the last day. This edges out the second biggest exchange OKEx by USD 100 million  and third biggest exchange Huobi by USD 350 million. Of course, these numbers vary from day to day, but Binance has almost always the top cryptocurrency exchange in the world by volume recently, with 343 different cryptocurrencies traded.

Despite being the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance has had no fiat functionality up to this point. Soon customers will be able to deposit fiat and buy cryptocurrency, and deposit cryptocurrency and withdraw fiat. This will attract many more customers and a lot more money to the exchange, improving liquidity and increasing market activity, cementing Binance’s top spot among cryptocurrency exchanges.

Binance was founded in Hong Kong, China, but was forced to move in September 2017 due to China banning all cryptocurrency trading. Binance chose Japan for its next headquarters but its stay was brief. On 23 March 2018 Japan’s Financial Services Authority issued a warning to Binance that it must cease operations since it didn’t have a license; Binance was trying to get a license before they moved but were unsuccessful.

Immediately after the Japanese warning, Binance decided to move to Malta, which is becoming a popular haven for cryptocurrency activity. The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, welcomed Binance 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

Zhao Chengpeng says Malta is one of the best places for blockchain firms and praises the local government’s attitude. He says things are going very well, and Binance may possibly form a partnership with Malta’s Stock Exchange.

Despite the peace of mind that Malta offers, Binance is still trying to become completely decentralized and considers that a top priority. This is not surprising considering that Binance has been chased around the world by angry governments. Becoming completely digital and decentralized is the only way to guarantee its long-term survival.

 

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The Rock Is Rolling with Gibraltar’s Investor Surge and First Crypto Postage Stamp

Xapo, the reputed startup holding USD 10 billion of Bitcoin for clients, is set to begin operations from the Rock of Gibraltar as the British overseas territory continues to attract Fintech business, reported Bloomberg.

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 like Binance and Bitmain in recent months. The 2nd Gibraltar International FinTech Forum held earlier this year, with another ‘Gibfin’ forum to follow in September 2018, demonstrates the country’s serious intent when it comes to encouraging fintech companies to do business there.

Xapo’s CEO, Wences Casares, met with Gibraltar officials including the minister for commerce Albert Isola this week and the minister commented that currently there are 30 businesses on The Rock going through the regulatory licensing process. Gibraltar officials have also confirmed this month that eToro, the self-described world’s leading social trading network, is close to becoming another of The Rock’s recent fintech acquisitions.

The four-year-old company has built a network of underground vaults on five continents, including one in a decommissioned Swiss military bunker. The firm’s billionaire backers include LinkedIn Corp co-founder Reid Hoffman and former Wall Street trader Mike Novogratz, who is in the process of setting up his own cryptocurrency merchant bank.

It is said the process to retrieve owners’ Bitcoins can take about two days. Xapo first verifies the client’s identity before manually signing the transaction with private keys from multiple vault locations. Verification from three vaults is required before funds can be issued.

“We had a good session with Xapo about their plans to expand operations in Gibraltar,” Isola said by phone.

On 21 May, Gibraltar also listed its own first collectible crypto postage stamps. Available in a block of four, the stamps depict the Rock of Gibraltar with a two-pound face value. Each block comes with a QR code which when scanned will generate 200 QRG coins per block in MyEtherWallet.

World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov, who is also a well-known philatelist, suggests that the Gibraltar QRG coins will be “…a leading light in illuminating the transparency of such transactions and thereby increasing the trust and confidence of participants on both sides.”

According to the report, The goal of the QRG Coin is that philatelic markets and auction houses will be only the first of many collectibles markets to adopt the QRG coin as the medium for the transfer of value.

 

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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%.

To view the full list and more, follow this link.

 

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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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