Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and even Dogecoin are changing the way we look at money – and that has massive implications for the political world. So Lovin Malta wanted to speak to as many Maltese parliamentarians as we could to see how they felt about the newest currencies on the block.
Not a single Maltese MP said they owned any cryptocurrency. However, their answers reveal a wide spectrum of opinions on the new technology.
Some parliamentarians showed absolutely no trust in cryptocurrencies, while others said they are open to investing in the future. More than anything, pretty much everyone we spoke to pointed to the need for more regulation of the sector.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed he does not have any cryptocurrencies
The Prime Minister told Lovin Malta that “cryptocurrencies are digital assets which at the moment are operating in a vacuum that offers a lot of opportunities but, given that at the moment they operate in an unregulated market, there are also high risks associated with them.”
He said he did not own any cryptocurrency, and was not planning on investing in any either.
He also showed interest in the technology behind the currency.
“Distributed Ledger technology is changing industries around us, and it is bringing organisations, institutions, governments, and platforms to a new digital age. In fact I am more interested in the technology benefits behind cryptocurrencies rather than the currency per se,” Dr Muscat said.
He also pointed out “regulation that the Government will put in practice will offer more transparency and traceability. That is why regulation is necessary.”
15 Labour politicians confirmed they do not personally have any cryptocurrency
The following politicians all confirmed to Lovin Malta that they did not own any form of cryptocurrency:
- Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana
- Minister for Tourism Konrad Mizzi
- Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici
- Minister for Transport Ian Borg
- Minister for Education Evarist Bartolo
- Minister Helena Dalli
- Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli
- Parliamentary Secretary Deo Debattista
- Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Parnis
- Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia
- Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius
- Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima
- MP Clayton Bartolo
- MP Glenn Bedingfield
- Government Whip Byron Camilleri
And some Labour politicians didn’t rule out investing one day
Justyne Caruana said “It is too early to decide,” while Byron Camilleri said he “did plan on investing in cryptocurrencies one day.”
Glenn Bedingfield said “I have never invested any money, but never say never,” while Aaron Farrugia said that “I would consider this if the sector is regulated.
However, some of the key top Labour officials didn’t respond at all
Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne failed to reply to questions.
And only two PN MPs responded about whether they personally own anything
Hon. Maria Deguara and Spokesperson for Social Housing and the Fight Against Poverty Ivan Bartolo both said that they did not own any cryptocurrencies, and were not interested in investing.
Hon. Deguara said that “time will tell” whether blockchain technology could be useful, and also that “I feel that cryptocurrencies offer a real opportunity to facilitate corruption at any level.”
The rest of the PN responded as a whole
The PN issued this statement to Lovin Malta when asked about cryptocurrencies:
“The subject of cryptocurrencies needs to be discussed separately from that of blockchain technology. The core technology, blockchain, has great merit and, if used appropriately, can power great change in a number of sectors including manufacturing and retailing. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, however, the situation is still very complex.
There is no doubt a broad spectrum of views on unregulated cryptocurrencies. Today, it is a fact that cryptocurrencies have managed to gain a foothold as a tradeable asset class. The nature of cryptocurrencies vary, nonetheless, the extremely high volatility serves as a good indicator of the general sentiment and risk that surrounds them.
In November 2017, the MFSA issued a consultation document to seek feedback on the degree of regulation, and corresponding assurance surrounding service offerings based on virtual currencies. We support a process where players in the financial sector, whether they provide investment services, credit institutions or other providers, will be bound to recognise their obligations to their customers.
Furthermore, where concerns of money laundering, or other negative influences on reputational risk or similar concerns arise, our national position needs to reflect that of a trusted and secure jurisdiction.
Following this consultation process, we expect MFSA to provide its proposals, clearly motivated and appropriately detailed.
Naturally, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies can also apply to regulated tokens or coin offerings, in which case it is the innovation and cyber risks which need careful consideration. This should certainly be part of Malta’s fintech agenda.
Our priority in this debate is to ensure that safeguards are put in place to ensure that while we protect innovation and remain one step ahead, this does not become another avenue for the criminal and corrupt to hide their ill-gotten gains. We believe that we can ensure that we have strict rules to ensure that anti-money laundering rules, suspicious transaction reporting and politically exposed persons rules can operate side to side with cryptocurrencies.
We need less anonymity and more transparency.
As regards public figures, crypto currencies are assets like any other and should be declared in line with the rules in place for disclosure.
Fundamentally dishonest behaviour, for any reason, should not be tolerated. The fact that dishonest dealings are frequently associated with unregulated or untraceable assets applies to society as a whole; it would be unfortunate if a new and potentially valuable technology was compromised because we fear politicians may misuse it. On the contrary, as politicians we must ensure that sound and robust legal framework is put in place for our country to tap the maximum potential that this sector has to offer without exposing the sector to unnecessary reputational risk.”
Questions personally sent to Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia were left unanswered.
And Partit Demokratiku’s Marlene Farrugia is not a fan
She said she had “no faith in cryptocurrencies,” and did “not own or intend to own investments in cryptocurrencies.” She also said that she believes “such virtual currencies can facilitate money laundering and corruption.”
And as far as blockchain technology went, she had “no faith in it.”