When it comes to countries around the world and their approach to crypto, you've already seen the headlines. Several governments and their regulatory bodies have not been shy in their attempts to control, or even outright ban cryptocurrency.
While they've been driven by fear to protect the status quo, or in some cases even a fundamental lack of understanding, other progressive countries have actually embraced the decentralized asset revolution. And as these early adopters take the lead in giving crypto regulatory approval, they’re attracting big business to their crypto-friendly environments and are well positioned for the economic progress ahead.
The emerging leader is undoubtedly the small Mediterranean island country of Malta – whose recent regulation is paving the way for blockchain industry growth and attracting a slew of cryptocurrency companies, namely global exchange leader Binance.
Malta is embracing blockchain
The Malta Bankers' Association newly appointed chairman, Marcel Cassar, sees blockchain as an opportunity for new economic infrastructure platforms. He even adds that blockchain's reliability with features like multi-signature technology actually make it a more effective platform for bank transactions. Not surprisngly, the government of Malta approved three bills in favor of regulating services in the domain of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies: The Virtual Assets Bill, The Technology Arrangements and Service Bill, as well as The Digital Innovation Authority Bill.
To avoid potential negative associations with the term "cryptocurrencies," they are referred to as virtual financial assets. Under the The Virtual Assets Bill, initial coin offerings (ICOs) become Virtual Financial Asset Offerings. The Technology Arrangements and Service Bill will enable a registration framework for technology service providers, as well as certification of technology arrangements. The Digital Innovation Authority Bill will promote transparency and auditability as well as impose ethical, legitimate, standards based criteria in the implementation and design of technology arrangements.
Together this combination of Maltese crypto legislation lays the foundation for various forms of fully legalized virtual financial assets in the country. And the framework is pulling in not only small investors but crypto giants as well.
Big crypto moving to Malta
Since Malta announced the cryptocurrency legislation earlier this year, some of the biggest names in crypto have been quick to take advantage. As another catalyst, the Malta Stock Exchange recently announced the MSX Fintech Accelerator Programme, which will be accepting up to 12 fin-tech startups and is backed by Canadian mass media company Thomson Reuters and crypto exchange Binance.
Binance, who moved its headquarters to Malta, is currently the largest crypto exchange by volume even while offering only crypto based trading pairs. With the official opening of a Maltese bank account, their plans to offer fiat pairs (starting with the Euro) are moving full steam ahead. Binance's offices in Malta will include 200 new jobs & their next move in the Bailiwick of Jersey, another 40 jobs and the potential to more quickly enable GBP fiat trading.
Founded in 2014, OKEx is also high on the list of the largest exchanges. Based in Hong Kong, OKEx was earlier to the table for enabling crypto to fiat trading, but is now moving to Malta as well.
Poland's BitBay is yet another one of the exchanges moving in. Since the only bank in Poland that was willing to provide financial services to BitBay decided to end the cooperation, BitBay is also off to Malta. Their migration commenced May 31st and will proceed through September 18th.
And the list doesn’t end at exchanges. Other crypto enterprises may be following suit, including cryptocurrency TRON (TRX) as well as Monaco, which issues prepaid VISA cards that users can load with their crypto assets. You can expect to see a lot more of this activity in Malta, as they not only encourage blockchain tech & crypto, but have already defined their views with tangible legislation.
Beyond Malta: Other Crypto-friendly Countries
Long before blockchain, Switzerland has always taken pride in being the world's focal point of banking and finance. In 2012, Switzerland's Zug started accepting Bitcoin as payment for certain public services. Just 6 years later Zug is internationally referred to as “Crypto Valley,” becoming one of the world’s leading locations for blockchain innovation.
Not surprisingly many current leaders in the crypto space are based in Switzerland including: The Ethereum Foundation, crypto asset exchange service ShapeShift, exchange platform Bancor, decentralized cloud startup Dfinity, and decentralized app and asset platform Tezos.
This Baltic country's e-Residency program aims to simplify establishing a digital identity and has set its sights on enabling blockchain-based governance systems – potentially leveraging an 'estcoin' token for ID management.
As a tech forward and crypto friendly country, Estonia is home to several blockchain startups: The CoinMetro exchange, the Ibinex exchange white label platform, and blockchain innovator Blockhive to name a few.
Earlier this year, Gibraltar announced The Digital Ledger Technology Framework, setting up a regulatory framework for companies that incorporate blockchain. Already home to crowdsale platform and ICO advisory firm TokenMarket, it's also set to develop regulation ensuring they're a top destination for launching new crypto assets. The Gibraltar Stock Exchange even developed a subsidiary to serve institutional cryptocurrency investors called The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX).
Backed by official regulation, Malta and these forward-thinking countries' stance on crypto is innovating and expanding their economies. We’re already seeing companies from all over the world migrate and set up new offices to surroundings that support transparency regarding crypto on a national level, and it’s a trend likely to continue.
Governments opting for common sense legislation to prevent fraud vs. bans and over-regulation understand the inevitability of innovation. It’s not certain how the crypto market will evolve, but it's certainly going to reshape many countries' economies - and increasingly technology reliant societies - for the better.