Economy Minister Silvio Schembri believes that Malta has much more potential in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies despite the numerous financial challenges that lay ahead.
Speaking in an interview shot last December with Trudy Kerr from SigmaTV, Schembri expressed that his ministry will push harder to establish a foothold in cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
“Three years ago when I started to speak about blockchain and cryptocurrencies it was something new for the country.”
“Malta made a decision to lead and we did it. We started discussing with a ‘Blockchain Island’ team and we worked hard,” he said.
At the time, Malta positioned itself as a global leader for the cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, even attracting large investors such as John McAfee and Steve Wozniak who flew over to promote Blockchain Island.
However, the blockchain industry has fallen short of its hopes and aspirations, with newly-appointed Finance Minister Clyde Caruana noting that traditional banks have been increasing their restrictions and regulations in order to combat money laundering.
“When it comes to licensing I was a bit disappointed that the Malta Financial Services Authority could’ve done more to expedite certain conditions,” Schembri continued.
“But I understand that coming from a financial regulator, the fact that we had other challenges, one of them being Moneyval,” he said.
After failing a Moneyval test back in September 2019, Malta was given one year to address its shortcomings in its anti-money laundering regime. However, that timeline has been extended in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Malta is put on Moneyval’s grey-list it could have dire consequences for the country and its economy and would put blockchain and cryptocurrencies on even shakier grounds.
Despite the barriers ahead, Schembri believes that there is a future for the cryptocurrencies in Malta, especially now that the digital economy is once again under his portfolio following the second Cabinet reshuffle of last year.
In November, Crypto.com became the first cryptocurrency platform to receive in-principle approvals for a Financial Institution License and a Class 3 Virtual Financial Assets by the MFSA.
“We can do more. I strongly believe in the potential Malta can offer in this area and the fact that this area is back in my portfolio, from my side I am going to push harder,” Schembri said.
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