Malta's Blockchain Ambitions are "Calculated Risk," Says Prime Minister

Despite the country's outspoken openness to blockchain technology, its prime minister considers recent policies adopted to accelerate cryptocurrency development a risk.

The blockchain industry initiative in Malta is a leap of faith that will establish it as a major hub for digital assets and their development in Europe, according to prime minister Joseph Muscat in an interview reported by Bloomberg.

“We’re taking a calculated risk,” he said yesterday in reference to the idea of stripping away “layers of bureaucracy” so that startups could establish a foothold on the island.

Aside from the recent blockchain-friendly policies that Malta adopted in the recent past, the country’s taxes with regard to foreign entities make it an attractive destination for companies that supply digital goods around the world.

While Muscat may be telling the truth, the calculated risk appears to be paying off. This year, both Binance and OKEx—two of the world’s largest exchanges—established presences there.

Binance took things a step further by establishing a startup accelerator via a partnership with the country’s stock exchange. It didn’t take long before the exchange also started putting in the work to offer Euro trading pairs for cryptocurrencies.

The risky part of this whole ordeal is the possibility of further political pressure from the EU due to the money laundering scandals the island has been through in the recent past. Given that cryptocurrencies have a strong association in the eyes of European authorities with money laundering, the influx of these operations to Malta might raise concerns.

Nonetheless, Muscat appears to be pleased with these recent movements, seeing blockchain technology as a solution, not an exacerbator, of these problems.

“I see blockchain as a technology being part of a solution when it comes to due diligence and anti-money laundering procedures. We’re quite aware of AML issues all across Europe and I don’t think it can be pinned down on one particular country such as Malta. In the same way that we came up with our regulation when it came to online gaming, we are trail blazers in all this. I think we can replicate this in this area, too, where the EU will at the end of the day be doing what we are very much doing right here today,” he concluded.