The new Malta Digital Innovation Authority will certify blockchain platforms used by companies in the country. It will also be responsible for “verifying” cryptocurrency transactions by checking if the logged information is genuine. The government hopes to bring some peace of mind to businesses using distributed ledgers for cross-border payments.
Authorities in Valletta are recognizing that companies utilize blockchains to cut out central authorities. However, they acknowledge that the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient money transfers. Worried that those platforms are not currently certified in any way, the government has decided to provide some “legal certainty and trust”. Officials believe companies will benefit from the work of the new authority, while also cutting out intermediaries such as banks.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy Silvio Schembri presented the new policy document at a press conference with various stakeholders, the Maltese Independent reported. He called the event a “historic moment” and provided further details on how authorities plan to implement regulations concerning the cryptocurrency sector in successive stages.
The first step will be to set up the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. A bill will set out the regime for the registration of service providers and the certification of technology arrangements, Schembri explained. On stage 2, another draft will formalize the framework for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). A third law will impose regulation on services directly related to cryptocurrencies. Intermediaries like brokers, exchanges, wallet providers, asset managers, and investment advisors will be subjected to its provisions.
Malta Strives to Be a Hub of Innovation
Silvio Schembri stressed that promoting policies which favor the development of Malta as a hub for new technologies, including in the public sector, will be among the main goals. The aim is to foster innovation by creating a successful ecosystem, he added. That will be achieved through the “utilization of cutting edge technology in useful business cases and the adherence to best practices”. The lawmaker also noted that the Digital Innovation Authority would protect Malta’s reputation taking into account its international commitments under anti-money laundering directives.
During the press conference, officials mentioned several applications of distributed ledger technology. In larger companies, internal DTL platforms can be used to maintain payroll systems and record movement of goods and invoices. Businesses can also take advantage of public platforms that share consensus mechanisms such as bitcoin and ethereum. Regulated financial institutions can utilize DTLs to offer services to their clients.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy said the government would consult with all stakeholders before finalizing its policies, including relevant authorities like the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and the police. Local and international representatives of the industry will also be involved in the process. Silvio Schembri added that the public is free to provide feedback in the next three weeks. After that, the bills will be introduced in the Parliament of Malta.