A man who set up a Maltese blockchain business together with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s direct endorsement has given his company priority over others.
Wozniak and Jacopo Vanetti launched Efforce, a blockchain-based platform which tokenises energy savings, last month during a press conference at Castille. The business was launched to kick off the second edition of the DELTA summit, the Maltese government’s annual digital innovation summit.
The Financial Times has now uncovered this screenshot from the official Efforce Telegram group chat.
Velotti is asked whether Efforce had submitted its application for a license to the MFSA by November 2018, which is when Malta passed its laws regulating blockchain companies and initial coin offerings.
The law granted a one-year transitory period (till 1st November 2019) to blockchain companies which had applied for a license to the MFSA before the bills came into law. Companies which applied after the law passed had to wait for an MFSA license before they could start operating in Malta.
As of last month, the MFSA had yet to approve a license for a blockchain company.
However, in the chat, Vanetti said that while Efforce hadn’t submitted its application by November, “we were lucky enough to have the direct endorsement of the Prime Minister”.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) July 18, 2019
Contacted by The Financial Times, Vanetti said that Efforce had actually been “among the first” to apply to the MFSA for approval and that the company wasn’t receiving any special treatment by regulators.
However, he added that he didn’t need to queue for MFSA approval because of Wozniak’s star power.
“We’re going to go through the same process as others, but I guess – and this is my interpretation – that yes, there is a priority access for some superstars, like there is everywhere I the world,” Vanetti said. “There’s nothing to be confused about here. If you get into a queue at the cinema or anywhere else and you try to get a ticket, you get served first.”
“But no, we are not in the same queue as the others, for a simple reason: because the Prime Minister wanted Woz to be at the forefront, to sponsor the Maltese government.”
Lovin Malta has contacted the MFSA to confirm whether Efforce had submitted its license application before or after the 2018 deadline.
At last month’s launch, Wozniak said that he only gets involved with very, very few companies, implying the significance of his involvement with Efforce.
“I like doing things personally and I joined this company because they’re into efficient techniques for ongoing businesses,” he said. “If you save money on energy that means more profit, which is good for the world. If we manage to use less energy, it will also be good for the environment.”
However, The Financial Times quoted a source with knowledge of Efforce as stating that Wozniak has only invested €132 to buy an 11% stake in the company. Efforce neither confirmed nor denied this figure.