Last week, Bitmalta has submitted a list of twenty short-term proposals to the Parliamentary Secretariat For Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation, ready for implementation while the holistic national blockchain framework is being set up. It is extremely important that certain quick measures are taken in light of the fast progress being registered by jurisdictions such as Estonia and Switzerland. These quickly-implementable solutions, termed as Bitwins, are of sufficient importance to place Malta in a more prominent position, while at the same time paving the way for the long-term national blockchain framework.
The full list of Bitwins is the following:
1. Confirm that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) can be done through Maltese-registered companies. This is merely a confirmation of the current situation, since the law does not provide for ICOs and therefore they are allowed under the applicable laws. However, it is strongly suggested that a definition of ICOs is provided so as to classify which ICOs can take place.
2. Clarify when they should be classified as securities and when they should not. In the former case, should a profit-sharing mechanism be involved, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) should consider allowing Private Investment Funds (PIFs) to be used in certain ICOs for the runners of such ICOs to give a share of the profits to the underlying token holders.
3. Offer subsidies or tax incentives to organisations wishing to set up international blockchain conferences in Malta, as well as to foreign blockchain-oriented organisations wishing to relocate their operations to Malta. This may include widening the scope of the Finance and Gambling Professional tax schemes to blockchain coders and other blockchain-oriented professionals.
4. Support the Malta Information Technology’s (MITA) Innovation Hub in all blockchain-related accelerator programs. This can lead to helping build successful business cases in Malta for effective international PR exercise.
5. Urge financial and credit institutions to seek dialogue with blockchain-related companies wishing to open a local bank account so as to facilitate and quicken the process for such companies, subject to sufficient safeguards being provided.
6. Issue monthly blockchain updates in the form of a newsletter to keep the momentum going.
7. Send Maltese delegates to prominent international blockchain conferences, a full list of which can be provided by Bitmalta and updated from time to time.
8. Hold a roundtable conference by the end of the year, the scope of which should be to allow regulatory and public authorities to communicate directly with private entities in the blockchain sector and solve any pending impasses.
9. Set up independent think tanks, accelerators and incubators with international experts, functioning similarly to other projects such as the Smart Dubai Accelerator.
10. Encourage anyone wishing to open up a Bitcoin ATM, subject to their full adherence to AML regulation and other applicable laws. For this purpose, a set of guidelines should be published and potential vetting considered as well.
11. Run a government portal through which all those who have blockchain and cryptocurrency related queries can submit their questions. Moreover, this portal should also set out clearly the position of the government on blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies on certain pressing issues such as current tax treatment, risks and benefits, and other high-level information.
12. Meet with the CEOs of the major public blockchain platforms, such as Ethereum, Waves, Stratis, Neo, Lisk, and IOTA.
13. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) should embrace distributed ledger technology and consider allowing remote casinos to be hosted on a blockchain.
14. The MGA should accelerate the process through which it would allow operators to accept cryptocurrencies, a proposition which was already put forward in its recent white paper.
15. Start consultation on the feasibility of associations, partnerships, trusts or companies to be formed or at least recorded on a blockchain.
16. Start conversations with Switzerland, Singapore, Estonia and Isle of Man, amongst others, to explore potential cooperation with such jurisdictions and develop active relationships with the same so as to achieve an effective PR exercise.
17. Issue clarification on whether funds can hold cryptocurrencies and whether fund asset managers can invest in cryptocurrencies.
18. Offer free training courses for the broader public to educate them on high-level blockchain topics.
19. Start internal government training about blockchain technologies, and ensure that key personnel in different departments are knowledgeable about the topic.
20. Set up sub-departments within the Central Bank and the MFSA specifically focused on the topic of blockchain technologies so as to keep abreast of developments and take quick action when new opportunities arise, as well as to keep an open communication channel with the various industries.
We strongly believe that there has never been a better time for action especially in light of the negative news from the Chinese government. The objective of Bitmalta is extremely clear: it is the first non-profit association dedicated towards the advocacy of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, as well as serving as a hub for private and public entities alike interested in this sector and facilitating dialogue. This is what we have successfully been doing and what we will continue doing in the foreseeable future. That is why we ask everyone and anyone who is interested in the sector to join us and pave the way for the capital of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.