July 4, 2018 marks a historical day for Malta, as the Maltese Parliament has officially passed 3 bills into law, establishing the first regulatory framework for blockchain, cryptocurrency and DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology). This makes Malta the first country in the world to provide an official set of regulations for operators in the blockchain, cryptocurrency and DLT space.
“I think that blockchain technology, DLT and cryptocurrency is where innovation is happening right now and we are very glad that Malta can offer the first jurisdiction in the world to regulate this sector. We are excited about what this will lead to in the future,” Joseph Muscat, Malta’s Prime Minister, told me.
Just last week, the Maltese Parliament voted unanimously to approve 3 cryptocurrency and blockchain bills, which were designed to make Malta one of the most desirable locations to set up shop in the blockchain space. As these bills have now been passed into laws, Malta is sure to become an early pioneer in economic innovation. In turn, this will strengthen the country’s economy with the creation of a new economic niche.
Moreover, Malta’s Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Silvio Schembri, noted that the passing of the new laws mark an important milestone in which companies will be provided with the necessary tools to operate in a regulated environment.
When we started looking into what was needed for the blockchain industry to flourish, we understood early on that the serious operators wanted legal certainty. As of now, operators are functioning in jurisdictions of legal uncertainty. Operators fear that one day a government in that particular legislation will tell them they aren’t within the law – even though there are currently very few laws in place. This is creating legal uncertainty and we wanted to change this, Schembri told me.
Malta: The World’s First Blockchain Island
Due to its innovation in the blockchain and DLT space, Malta has earned a reputation for being known as “the world’s first blockchain island.” And now that the Maltese Parliament has approved the laws intended to set up the first regulatory framework for DLT, more blockchain and cryptocurrency operators are sure to look towards Malta as a safe and welcoming environment.
The first law, known as the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act (MDIA Act), establishes the Malta Digital Innovation Authority and certifies DLT platforms. This law will focus on internal governance arrangements and will outline the duties and responsibilities of the Authority to certify DLT platforms to ensure credibility and provide legal certainty to users wishing to make use of a DLT platform.
The second law, known as the Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS Act), deals with DLT arrangements and certifications of DLT platforms. This bill is primarily concerned with the setting up of exchanges and other companies operating in the cryptocurrency market.
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