Malta’s push to become a global ‘blockchain island’ risks getting stifled from within as many local banks are reluctant to even open accounts for what they view as risky clientele.
Now, for the first time, the chief executive of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has admitted a problem exists and has pledged action to counter the banks’ conservative approach.
“It is abundantly clear that Malta needs more banks to participate in the development of our economy, particularly in the digital and FinTech space,” Joseph Cuschieri said in an interview with the Malta Independent. “I am not happy with the current situation on various fronts and doing nothing is not an option for me. Our banking strategy and policy review to be published next year will address this challenge in a holistic fashion and we will consult with all stakeholders before any decisions are taken.”
An anonymous journalist from crypto news website CCN referred to this banking reluctance when assessing the island following a visit to the recent Malta Blockchain Summit.
The situation is likely to have aggravated since then following the MFSA’s clampdown on Satabank, which was renowned as being far more open to businesses like iGaming that other banks viewed as too risky.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has repeatedly urged banks to do more to stimulate the economy and has publicly embraced disruptive fintech banks like Revolut and Ferratum.