Millions of euros were spent on marketing Malta as a ‘blockchain island’, and opposition MP Jason Azzopardi is calling for an audit into the money spent on this “flop”.
Around 70% of crypto companies that started in Malta failed to give a formal notice to start official licensing, and Azzopardi referred to several reports speaking negatively of Malta’s crypto business.
Malta has attempted to become a blockchain island for years, starting in 2016 and with its peek between 2018 and 2019, when major companies’ representatives travelled to Malta, including Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the late John McAfee.
Back then, ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat had even said he dreamed of Malta becoming “Silicon Valley of Europe”.
But soon afterwards, the term gained negative traction from those who had initially supported the marketing campaign.
Earlier this year, MSFA head Christopher Buttigieg said he didn’t like the term blockchain island, while poking several holes in the former crypto strategy. Main risks he identified were potential fraud, money laundering, terrorism financing and cyber-risks.
Just a month later, the man who coined the term ‘blockchain island’ said he wants nothing to do with it, while finance minister Clyde Caruana suggested that the entire sector might need to be eliminated if it contributes to Malta’s greylisting.
Government MP Silvio Schembri denied that Malta’s crypto industry had an influence on the country’s greylisting.
Do you think there needs to be an investigation into the crypto marketing plan?