Malta to Assist the Government of Vanuatu in Forming Blockchain and ICO Legislation

At the request of the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu, Maltese regulators will offer their expertise to the Pacific island nation in forming their own blockchain regulatory framework.

The state authorities of Malta will assist the government of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu in forming blockchain regulations, the Vanuatu Daily Post reported Monday, Oct. 8.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu Ralph Regenvanu has reportedly requested assistance from the Maltese government in forming blockchain legislation upon instructions from the Council of Ministers.

Speaking at a meeting with Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, and Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri, Regenvanu noted the crucial role of adopting appropriate regulatory frameworks for the blockchain industry and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

In mid-September, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) issued a public warning on crypto, stating that digital currencies are “not recognized as legal tender in Vanuatu and are not issued or regulated by the bank,” according to Daily Post.

The statement subsequently raised concerns among local authorities, with state regulators suspending the issuance of Financial Dealers Licenses (FDL) to crypto and blockchain-related businesses until proper regulation is adopted.

According to the report, Maltese authorities “immediately” responded to Regenvanu’s request, and offered assistance to the Vanuatu Government in developing proper legislation for the blockchain sphere.

Regenvanu also suggested the formation of a “Commonwealth of Blockchain Islands” for establishing blockchain regulatory standards. According to the Vanuatu Daily Post, Muscat “warmly welcomed the Minister’s recommendation.”

In addition to providing training to both Ni-Vanuatu students and state regulators, and general technical assistance in blockchain regulation, Maltese financial authorities are also eager to contribute to Vanuatu’s financial oversight.

In early July, the Parliament of Malta passed three bills that set a defined regulatory framework and legal environment for the crypto and blockchain industries.

Due to the high level of blockchain industry development, as well as increased awareness and openness to the cryptocurrency industry, the country has become a popular spot for crypto-related businesses, including major crypto exchanges lilke Binance, OKex, and BitPay.

Recently, Muscat claimed that crypto is the “inevitable future of money,” while blockchain can create a more transparent and fair society.

In October 2017, the Vanuatu government announced that the country accepts Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for its citizenship program, requiring a one-time payment of $200,000, or around 30 bitcoins as of press time.

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Malta’s Finance Minister: Crypto Means Finance Middlemen ‘Face The Chop’

Intermediaries profiting from the fiat banking system “face the chop in the not too distant future,” Malta’s finance minister Edward Scicluna has told Cointelegraph.

Financial intermediaries will be “facing the chop” thanks to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, Malta’s finance minister told Cointelegraph in an interview Friday, October 5.

Speaking in a private interview during the Malta Blockchain Conference: Delta Summit 2018, Edward Scicluna said that the advent of cryptocurrency that is usable by the mass populace was making the middlemen of finance go the way of traditional photo developers.

“This is a disruptive technology,” he said when asked whether he sees crypto as a future payment method, continuing:

“I can see this, just like in photography when you could tell that […] those who process the photos [are] going to lose their jobs, a lot of financial intermediaries will be facing the chop in the not too distant future.”

Scicluna revealed that although he no longer held cryptocurrency himself, he had learnt “a lot” about it early on from his son, who both bought and traded Bitcoin in its “early years.”

“I think [intermediaries] have to listen and be attentive; I think that’s what the banks are doing now,” he continued.

Scicluna stopped short of stating that cryptocurrency and blockchain could help prevent another financial crisis in and of itself. “It’s a big revolution,” he concluded. “The possibilities are endless.”

The comments come as little surprise on the back of Malta’s continued partnerships with the cryptocurrency industry as part of its quest to become the so-called “Blockchain Island.”

Last week, the country’s prime minister Joseph Muscat continued the official line of support in a speech to the United Nations, during which he called cryptocurrency the “inevitable future of money.”

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Nevermind the Stagnating Market, Binance Is Pushing Further in Its Expansion

Starting an exchange in Singapore is an ambitious step — the most recent in a series of Binance’s summer activities.

Sept. 15 came with the announcement from the Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (also referred to as ‘CZ’): One of the largest global crypto exchanges will start testing a crypto-fiat exchange in Singapore.

While no further details have been specified, the crypto-fiat Singapore-based exchange will presumably support the local Singapore dollar. A closed beta testing was conducted on Sept. 18, after that CZ shared a hope the platform could start its work within months.

Starting an exchange in the third most favorable country in the world for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is an ambitious step — the most recent in the series of activities Binance engaged in the last few months.

Conquest into Europe

Previously in September, Binance had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Malta Stock Exchange’s fintech and digital asset subsidiary, MSX PLC. The main goal of the collaboration is the forthcoming trading platform. The official press release didn’t give away many details but highlighted that the future platform will benefit from the Malta Stock Exchange’s “26-year track record of operating as a regulated stock exchange.”

It’s worth noting that on July 19, Neufund — an equity fundraising platform on the blockchain — revealed it’s partnering with both MSX and Binance “to create a regulated and decentralized, global stock exchange for listing and trading tokenized securities alongside crypto-assets.” The company’s press release stated that Neufund will become the first end-to-end primary issuance platform for security tokens and equity tokens, in particular. Binance CEO confirmed the announcement:

“We are glad to partner with Neufund over the pioneering idea to create a complete ecosystem for issuing and trading securities on blockchain. Today’s announcement marks a new chapter for Binance’s development, with the goal to tokenize traditional financial assets.”

This isn’t the first business experience in Malta for Binance. It has steadily been expanding its presence in a country whose pro-crypto regulatory stance has earned it the moniker of “Blockchain Island.” The first time the company announced the opening of its office in Malta was at the end of March, after receiving a warning letter from Japanese financial authorities about its unregistered status.

Earlier this summer, Changpeng Zhao told Cointelegraph in an exclusive interview that the exchange had opened a bank account on the island, paving the way for the introduction of fiat-crypto pairs. Company representatives subsequently hinted at the exchange’s plans to open a Malta-based platform to this end. Changpeng Zhao also praised the “active and transparent crypto regulations” on the island:

“Malta […] has become a global hub for blockchain technology through active and transparent crypto regulations. This partnership will allow Binance and MSX to host traditional financial assets on blockchain technology through security tokens.”  

But Malta isn’t the only tax haven that Binance took interest in. On Aug. 12, Binance LCX — a joint venture between Binance and Liechtenstein Cryptoassets Exchange (LCX) — announced the launch of a fiat-to-crypto exchange. The new trading platform will offer trading between Swiss francs (CHF) and euros (EUR) against major digital currencies pairs, subsequently adding more trading pairs following regulatory approvals.

The Binance team promised to provide and maintain the technology platform, while Binance LCX would take on customer support, legal requirements, due diligence, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance and communication with the government. For that particular aim, Binance LCX immediately started the hiring process to build up a team of 10-15 people for its Liechtenstein office. The opening even got a commentary from the nation’s prime minister, Adrian Hasler:

“We are confident that Liechtenstein’s existing and future legal framework and practice provide a robust foundation for the Binance LCX and other blockchain companies to provide exceptional services here in Liechtenstein.”

Binance’s acquisition history

Binance broke into the media space in the first day of summer, revealing the plans to create a $1 billion cryptocurrency-based fund. The exchange decided to use its BNB tokens as an investment vehicle under the governance of its incubator spin-off Binance Labs. The fund stated it would onboard only significant heavyweights as partners, members requiring at least $100 million in asset management. As Ella Zhang, the head of Binance Labs, put it during an online conference:

“We do proper asset management. We like to lock in long-term projects. Investors and entrepreneurs are locked together. Non-believers do not enter.”

Further details were provided by the Binance Labs in August. The program will take on around eight-10 companies per batch for a 10-week period, and Binance Labs will hand out $500,000 to each program participant in exchange for a 10 percent stake in the business. Beyond money, Binance Labs is going to provide its projects mentoring, technical advice, access to the Binance network and support on non-technical, organization-building activities. The last deadline for applications expired on Sept. 14, and the maiden program will be held in San Francisco starting Oct. 9.

Meanwhile, on July 31, Binance made its first public acquisition. The company paid in a mixture of fiat money, Binance stocks and its own BNB token for Trust Wallet, a United States-based, open-source, anonymous and decentralized wallet that supports Ethereum (ETH) and over 20,000 different Ethereum-based tokens (ERC-20, ERC-223, and ERC-721).

CZ stressed that Trust Wallet is a strong team in terms of technical knowledge but requires assistance with their marketing strategy:

“They haven’t done much marketing, which is where we can help. They are strong technically but don’t like doing marketing, HR, etc. […] Now, merging with us, they don’t have to worry about money.”

Apart from boosting the service’s business development, Binance plans to list Trust Wallet as a default wallet on the highly-anticipated Binance decentralized exchange. Zhao said that Binance is considering further acquisitions. Trust Wallet founder Viktor Radchenko lauded the acquisition as an opportunity to return to focusing on developing the app and the technology.

Another major investment came in August, when Binance Labs — along with their rivals from OKEx and Huobi Capital — made a contribution to the $32 million funding round of a new stablecoin project out of South Korea. Dubbed Terra, the stablecoin is going to be integrated into the payment systems of the so-called Terra Alliance, a group of global ecommerce partners that includes, among others, South Korean ecommerce marketplace Ticket Monster (TMON), which boasts a considerable $4 billion in total sales.

Explaining the impetus behind its contribution, Binance Labs head Ella Zhang highlighted Terra’s existing network of partnering companies already waiting to use the token:

“While we see many stablecoins coming out, Terra’s journey is especially meaningful, as they are designing one of the few price-stable protocols with [an] existing, working and strong go-to-market strategy and usage.”

It began in Africa

Before Malta, Lichtenstein and Singapore was Uganda. In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph on June 28, Changpeng Zhao shared the details about the new platform, Binance Uganda, the company’s first foray into fiat-crypto trading — supporting the Ugandan shilling, alongside major cryptocurrencies. It had been said that Binance Uganda would be an independent structure but with a “strong business cooperation” with the existing platform.

Highlighting that Binance is interested in expanding into Africa’s market “in general,” CZ said that work on the Uganda venture has been “progressing really fast,” thanks to strong support from government, regulators and the industry:

“Uganda [is a] really interesting situation, only 11 percent of the population has bank accounts. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity. So it may be easier to adopt cryptocurrency as a form of currency instead of trying to push for bank adoption. It’s an interesting experiment — Africa’s a big market, that’s why we’re there.”

At the recent Consensus Singapore Zhao explained the Binance focus towards the small markets, from such well known tax havens as Malta to the not so obvious African choice as Uganda:

We are willing to work with any government that wants to work with us. Smaller ones are much easier to work with, because you can talk to the prime ministers directly.

Company shows a good spirit, but NY’s Attorney General has some questions

Binance surely isn’t alone in its activities toward embarking into new jurisdictions. Huobi launched in Australia on July 5, with plans for its London-based operations to commence trading in Q3 and U.S.-based operations in the near future. Coinbase, meanwhile, is eyeing Japan and securing a U.S. banking license.

But the company definitely enjoys the optimistic results amid the market crisis and stagnation, which has already been compared to the dot-com bubble burst. Figures compiled by cryptocurrency industry newsletter producer Diar on Aug. 20 show that Binance’s volume increased 21 percent in July compared to June. The exchange currently occupies the fourth spot on CoinMarketCap, with about $1.2 billion in trades over the past 24 hours, as of press time.

In his interview on July 6, CZ shared his expectations of Binance’s profits to reach $1 billion in 2018. In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, CZ appeared unfazed by the falling trade volumes — both on Binance and other crypto exchanges — throughout 2018, noting that “markets always overreact” — both when things are going well, and when things cool off — and that he’s “seen this many times: five or six times, on a yearly cycle.”

We may even consider the market crisis a catalyst for the Binance activity. As CZ has put it, preparing for “the next uptick,” Binance is improving its systems to allow for more volume — 100 or 1000 times more than it supports at present. “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we’ve got to be ready for it.” Another company representative, freshly hired CFO Wei Zhou told Bloomberg that 300 people from 39 different countries, working for the Binance structures at the moment, will not be enough to support the firm’s ambitious plans for the near future.

At Consensus Singapore, CZ further explained that he wants the company to launch five to 10 fiat-to-crypto exchanges — two per continent — in one year. He also confirmed that Binance stays in a good financial health regardless of the market dip, with $200 million in profits during the first quarter of 2018 and $150 million in the second one.

But one important thing the loquacious Binance CEO didn’t comment on is the possible allegations from the New York State attorney general’s office. On Sept. 18, Attorney General Barbara Underwood released a report, which, among other things, states that Binance, Kraken and Gate.io could be in violation of a series of cryptocurrency-focused regulations and rules — and as such, they should be referred to the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS):

“As our report details, many virtual currency platforms lack the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the fairness, integrity and security of their exchanges. With this report, we hope to give New Yorkers the tools they need to make educated decisions on whether to entrust their money to a cryptocurrency platform and to help protect themselves against theft, fraud and abuse.”

The report represents the results of the “Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative” that was launched in April, when then-New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent letters to 13 crypto exchanges, requesting information on their operations, internal controls and other key issues.

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Binance Follows OKEx In Setting Up Malta Security Token Exchange

malta binance stock exchange

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has signed a deal with the stock exchange of its new home Malta to host traditional assets using blockchain-based security tokens. Malta ‘Taking The Helm’ In a press release September 11, MSX, the fintech and digital asset subsidiary of the Malta Stock Exchange confirmed it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Binance to launch the security tokens trading platform. “Malta is taking the helm of regulating blockchain technology and cultivating

The post Binance Follows OKEx In Setting Up Malta Security Token Exchange appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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Malta Stock Exchange Signs MOU with Binance to Launch Security Tokens Trading Platform

A subsidiary of Malta’s Stock Exchange has signed a MOU with crypto exchange Binance to jointly launch a new security token digital exchange.

The Malta Stock Exchange’s fintech and digital asset subsidiary, MSX PLC, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with crypto exchange Binance to jointly launch a new security token digital exchange, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph September 11.

The press release pitches the forthcoming trading platform as being poised to benefit from the Malta Stock Exchange’s “26-year track record of operating as a regulated stock exchange,” with the dynamism and international scope of Binance’s business model.

As previously reported, Binance has steadily been expanding its business presence in Malta, a country whose pro-crypto regulatory stance has earned it the moniker of “Blockchain Island.” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, is quoted as saying:

“Malta […] has become a global hub for blockchain technology through active and transparent crypto regulations. This partnership will allow Binance and MSX to host traditional financial assets on blockchain technology through security tokens.”

The chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange, Joe Portelli, has for his part said the initiative represents a “new market opportunity [to] develop and push the boundaries of the Maltese financial sector.”

As Cointelegraph has reported, Binance first announced the opening of its office in Malta at the end of March after receiving a warning letter from Japanese financial authorities about its unregistered status.

Earlier this summer, CZ told Cointelegraph in an exclusive interview that the exchange had opened a bank account on the island, paving the way for the introduction of fiat-crypto pairs. Company representatives subsequently hinted at the exchange’s plans to open a Malta-based platform to this end.    

Binance is currently the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour adjusted trading volume, seeing almost $822 million in trades on the day to press time. In July, CZ told Bloomberg he “expects” the exchange — which has also recently extended its international operations to Uganda — to reach $1 billion in profits in 2018.

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Malta’s Push to Become a Global ‘Blockchain Island’ Seems to Be Working

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat classified Malta’s efforts to become a crypto and blockchain-friendly jurisdiction as a “calculated risk.” So far, work by authorities to turn Malta into a world leader for both industries looks to be paying off. A variety of nations across the world have spent time investigating how they can control and manage the spread of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Malta has been moving in an encouraging direction for a while now. A number

The post Malta’s Push to Become a Global ‘Blockchain Island’ Seems to Be Working appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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Switzerland First in Ranking of Top 10 Most Blockchain-Friendly Countries in Europe

BlockShow’s rankings of the best European countries for opening a blockchain company puts Switzerland at the top of the list.

Switzerland is ranked number one in a list of the top ten European countries for starting a blockchain company, according to a study released by blockchain conference BlockShow Europe 2018.

In the list of best countries for starting a blockchain company, Gibraltar and Malta follow Switzerland in second and third respectively. The study consisted of 48 European countries that were examined for rankings by Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations, regulations on crypto as a payment service, and taxation frameworks for crypto.

Switzerland is known as a crypto-friendly nation due to both its establishment of a virtual currency hub, “crypto valley,” in Zug and its status as a tax-free haven for crypto investors. Gibraltar has reportedly attracted 200 ICOs before the planned launch of its Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), and Malta, the “blockchain island,” has welcomed major crypto exchanges Binance and OKEx recently.

BlockShow also released a poll this week on blockchain-based app Polys that allows users to vote on the leading women and companies in the EU blockchain space. The winners of the poll will be announced during the BlockShow conference at the end of this month in Berlin.

At the beginning of February, the European Commission announced the launch of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum as part of their aim to unite the economy around blockchain. However, more recently, newly approved EU privacy laws – which come into effect on May 25 – arguably conflict with the decentralized nature of blockchain technology.

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Malta Partners With Blockchain Startup to Improve Public Transportation

Malta has partnered with middleware blockchain startup Omnitude to create a transport and logistics platform to improve transport reliability.

The Transport Minister of Malta has announced a partnership with UK middleware blockchain startup Omnitude to improve the Maltese Public Transport Service, local news outlet The Malta Independent reported May 17.

Malta has expressed the aim of becoming the “Blockchain island,” a goal helped by major crypto exchange Binance – the world’s second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap  – announcing plans this March to open an office in the country. In April, OKEx, currently the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, also announced their intention of expanding to Malta.

Malta’s Transport Minister Ian Borg said that the partnership between Omnitude and the Maltese transport system to create a transport and logistics blockchain platform will “develop overall improvements in transport reliability.”

CEO and founder of Omnitude Chris Painter said that they “look forward to working with the Maltese Government to explore the capabilities of Omnitude’s broad based blockchain ecosystem:”

“Governments around the world are beginning to see the potential for blockchain to reduce costs and streamline services. Malta has an extremely progressive government and we’re excited about the potential this partnership brings.”

In mid-April, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) released a consultation paper on the possible introduction of a “Financial Instrument Test” that would legally define virtual tokens in another step towards regulatory clarity for blockchain and crypto projects.

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eSports Platform To Launch Peer-To-Peer Betting As It Consults Malta’s Government

An eSports gaming company is enabling fans to place bets with each other through blockchain, declaring: “There is no need for bookmakers anymore.”

An eSports platform which allows users to challenge each other instead of betting against a bookmaker is preparing to integrate blockchain technology into its newly relaunched website. This comes as it consults with Maltese officials on how its gaming licence could be extended to incorporate cryptocurrency.

HERO is a Vienna-based company that has the goal of bringing back the social element to betting. It believes that the gaming industry lacks innovation and the nature of online betting needs to change, and gaming has become a system where middlemen take unfair fees and untrustworthy bookmakers rip people off. HERO enables users to challenge one another in a system without odds and unfair conditions.

Its decentralized technology is initially going to be integrated into herosphere.gg, an existing platform specializing in eSports prediction and fantasy that has already amassed more than 200,000 registered users. Herosphere currently offers contests across four games: Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Following the implementation, users will be able to place their bets using HEROcoin (PLAY) – a brand-new cryptocurrency. The bigger plan is to provide its blockchain technology to any other gaming provider over time.

Christina Roth, Head of Communications for HERO, told Cointelegraph: “Our goal is to reintroduce a social element to betting and make it fun and safe for everyone. We see the blockchain as a huge advantage for our industry, helping us to foster what has always been important to us personally: transparency, fairness, and consumer protection.”

“There is no need for bookmakers anymore”

The HERO Network’s launch comes at an exciting time for the eSports industry. Data from Newzoo suggests global revenues for this sector hit $655 mln in 2017, and this year, revenues of $905 mln are forecast – an increase of 38 percent. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is expecting that the market is going to grow by a compound rate of 22 percent in the three years to 2019 – transforming eSports into a “one billion dollar opportunity.”

Major players in the traditional sporting world have been watching the industry flourish with interest, and now, many want in on the action. The NBA recently announced plans to launch its own eSports league in 2018, and broadcasting behemoths such as ESPN have started to show eSports tournaments on their channels. According to research from The Next Level, 2017’s highest-rated show was Madden Challenge on CW, with 670,000 people tuning in. On Twitch, 40 mln hours were spent watching Dota 2 coverage – 21.3 mln of them eSports, according to Newzoo.

Although revenues per eSports fan are modest at the moment, they are growing. In 2016, it was estimated that every enthusiast was worth $3.50 a year – considerably lower than the average $15 that was spent by a basketball fan. However, HERO says expenditure and demand is increasing, with revenues of as much as $11 per fan, per year possible by 2019.

The HERO Network, a fully transparent system, allows the community to create games – with other users making peer-to-peer predictions on the outcome. Smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain are going to be used for automating the process of buy-ins and payouts, creating transparency and trust when transactions are being made.

Users who create a contest – for example, the opportunity for others to bet on the outcome of an eSports event – will be able to set their own reward, with a customized percentage of the total amount wagered being paid into their account. All contests will also come with something known as a General Reward, with at least 1 percent of the funds in pots across all platforms and providers going back to token holders.

Establishing new connections

HERO, which is based in Austria, has been pioneering legal changes in its home country when launching Austria’s first ICO last September.

“We are not focusing solely on our own product”, Paul Polterauer, CEO of HERO, told Cointelegraph, “but we are interested in enabling change for the industry as a whole.”

Currently, HERO is advising Malta on how cryptocurrencies could be used in the gaming sector and has just finished their feedback on the second draft of the license. The country has a gaming license which is applicable for businesses across the European Union, and is planning to have it ready for application within the next months. “It’s an exciting time for us, but also for the industry”, says Polterauer.

Roth added: “When Malta was looking for stakeholders, they wanted experts who were experienced in dealing with complex regulations and reached out to us.”

The company is on track for its official release of the first use, where herosphere.gg will integrate the HEROcoin within the next weeks and prove an example for other providers.

 

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