Gibraltar Answers Blockchain Regulation Calls – Will Malta be Next?

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When it comes to online gambling and financial services, Gibraltar usually stands at the forefront of innovation. Flexible tax laws have allowed the British territory to become a hub for all things money related, with it now taking a massive step into the world of cryptocurrency. The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) is set to establish a new licensing system for start-ups focusing on Blockchain-based technology.

This new licensing system is set to apply to companies that fall under the bracket of financial services. So, any company that transfers or transmits money via Blockchain or any other DLT would require a license in order to operate legally. The purpose of the new licensing system is to draw in new fintech firms, as Gibraltar continues to brace itself for life after Brexit. The introduction of these new licensing measures is in direct response to those calling for regulatory framework in the Blockchain space, with many major companies not being shy in speaking up.

The new law represents an amendment to the already established Financial Services Act, with this addition defining how Blockchains can be used for both transmission and data storage. What this new bill represents is a step towards integration, with another bill designed to regulate ICOs to follow shortly after. New rules regarding cryptocurrencies and ICOs – as it has become somewhat like the wild west in recent times – have been largely welcomed, but it has brought on another question, will fellow financial services hotbed Malta follow suit?

Prominent political backing

Malta and Gibraltar tend to be neck and neck when it comes to both online gambling and financial services industry support, with cryptocurrency acceptance being no exception. Malta was actually the very first country to step up and introduce Blockchain into state programs via the National Health Registry and Land Register. But, with Gibraltar making tremendous strides, Malta wants to push matters further in order to truly stand out as cryptocurrency hub. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wants Malta to become a pioneer in Blockchain technology; with it set to match Gibraltar with regards to DLT regulation in the very near future. 350 delegates have declared an interest in the technology and what it can bring to Malta, with a strong DLT ecosystem now becoming a top priority.

The high street and beyond

Malta’s intentions to become a cryptocurrency trailblazer aren’t just limited to political and regulatory developments, as the county has already opened its door to Bitcoin payments. Local companies that accept Bitcoin as a payment option are growing rapidly, with brands like Keepmeposted already making the move. Some companies – such as Blonde and Giant – are even allowing employees to be part-paid in Bitcoin. Malta’s approach to Bitcoin inclusion has been refreshing, with the technology becoming increasingly commonplace in the country.

Ready to talk

Blockchain technology and its growing presence is also making an impact on the country’s speaking circuit. Famous for its gambling conferences – including the world-renowned SiGMA – it appears that conferences regarding Blockchain and Bitcoin are starting to gain traction. The Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference leads the way, as it has helped put bitcoin use in Malta under the spotlight. With the governments welcoming rhetoric set to continue, the number of Bitcoin and Blockchain conferences is surely set to grow on Maltese shores.

Blazing a trail!

Gibraltar has beaten Malta to the punch when it comes to implementing a licensing system for start-ups focusing on Blockchain-based technology. However, Malta is certainly not shirking in the shadows when it comes to embracing cryptocurrencies. Set to implement its own DLT licensing regulations in the near future, to partner new law amendments, Malta has clear intentions on being a trailblazer. Matching each other step for step, the calls for Bitcoin to be regulated and in many ways be given more legitimate footing were prominent, with both Malta and Gibraltar going to great lengths to answer them.