Malta Bitcoin Schizophrenia: Government and Banks Send Mixed Signals

Malta Financial Services Agency (MFSA) has issued its Discussion Paper on Initial Coin Offerings, Virtual Currencies and related Service Providers, “to present to the industry a proposed policy to be adopted by the MFSA for the regulation of the ICOs, [cryptocurrencies] and service providers involved in ICO and/or other VC activity.” It’s a welcome sign for the country’s bitcoiners after its oldest bank effectively banned all bitcoin transactions. Clearly there is a tension between Malta’s legacy financial sector and, perhaps ironically, a government eager to help usher in a new financial future.

Malta and its Crypto Identity Problem

MSFA is the country’s main financial regulator, and it appears to be seeking guidance on how to proceed with financial innovations, be they initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrencies (referred to as virtual currency or VC), and blockchain technology. It’s a rare chance for a nascent industry to have a say in regulating itself.

The stated aim of the MSFA paper is “to devise a policy framework that supports the innovation and new technologies for financial services in the area of VCs,” it declares, noting it is keeping an eye on “ensuring effective investor protection, financial market integrity and financial stability.” […]

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