When you think of Malta, what comes to mind?
Is it the mysterious history of the Knights Templar, the bright blue of the Mediterranean sea, or the picturesque island landscape with its beaches and garigue land? It's a reasonable guess that you're not thinking of the world of finance. Yet Malta is a rising star in the high-tech finance firmament. Malta has become a major nexus for the new technologies shaking up the financial world: cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology on which they're based.
In recent times, cryptocurrencies -- and the technologies that drive them -- have dramatically altered the financial landscape. It sometimes seems as if the world and its dog are talking about mining, investing, trading and developing cryptocurrencies, from the original behemoth Bitcoin to newer coins like Ripple and Ethereum. There is no longer any question that blockchain technology is gearing up to change every aspect of modern life -- not just the finance sector but healthcare, education and even the electoral system, with blockchain voting on the horizon.
How, though, is the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta becoming so central?
An idyllic location
Given the choice between the dreary concrete cityscapes of most financial centres and the glorious sun-kissed shores of Malta, most people would opt for the latter. Malta offers everything you could require: it's a quick three-hour hop from the major airports of Europe, has a large ex-pat community and the amiable locals generally have an excellent command of English. The infrastructure is outstanding, with top-class health and education facilities. Malta is rich with culture, is blessed with great natural beauty and enjoys a balmy Mediterranean climate. The island offers a very high quality of life and is perfectly situated for both commerce and leisure.
Favorable regulations and a supportive government
Malta has a solid track record in the field of digital and high-tech industries. Malta was an early supporter of the nascent iGaming industry; it's now considered the most highly regarded jurisdiction anywhere in the world when it comes to online games. Something similar is now occurring with regard to blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Malta's government has drafted bills, three in all, that will build a legal framework to ensure ongoing development in the blockchain and crypto sector, while at the same time protecting operators and their clients. Cryptocurrency interests have responded favourably, with major player Binance locating their headquarters in Malta. The balance Malta has struck between compliance with international regulations and support for the industry makes the island uniquely favourable. Once this legislation is fully in place, clear standards will be delineated and ICOs will be monitored and supervised. Cryptocurrency service providers (eg. investment managers, currency brokers, purveyors of eWallets etc) will be regulated and given the support they need. In this way, providers and consumers will all be protected under a system of clear standards.
A track record of innovation
Malta has consistently striven to be ahead of the curve where technology and innovation are concerned. As we've previously seen, Malta established itself as the main hub for the iGaming industry. As a result, the island's digital ecosystem is healthy and flourishing. Malta is also notable as a pioneer in citizenship by investment, being among the first to get its programme recognised by the European Union. Companies from many different sectors have been attracted by Malta's investment in digital technology, including IT and corporate service providers, as well as marketing agencies and law firms. Malta also offers a large and impressive pool of potential employees, with plenty of well-trained, highly experienced and multi-lingual candidates to choose from.
Rolling out the welcome mat for businesses
The process of setting up a business -- securing premises, hiring staff, transmitting money and so on -- is too often a complicated and difficult one. Malta has done much to simplify and streamline this process. The Maltese government is famously pro-business and has put in place a number of strong incentives: various double taxation treaties, convenient company structures and other benefits make setting up a business in Malta very painless, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on succeeding.
ICOs, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology powering it all are here to stay. Every week that passes brings some new development, making it increasingly obvious that if you want to get ahead in cryptocurrency and blockchain tech you need to be situated at the heart of digital finance: Malta. With its superior workforce, outstanding standard of living, a favourable legal framework overseen by a business-oriented government, and a track record in financial technology that's second to none, it's evident that Malta is the place to be.
Malta's reputation as the ideal jurisdiction for fintech isonly likely to keep growing in the future.