Business 11 July 2018Gerald Fenech
In another first for Malta, ‘blockchain island’ hosts landmark ICCO
Malta continues to set the trend in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space with the launch of what it referred to as the first initial convertible coin offering (ICCO) by a local blockchain company called Palladium.
In this innovative case, a so-called ‘tokenized convertible warrant’ will be regulated by a prospectus, which is to be approved by the Malta Financial Services Authority. This project is subject to stringent EU rules and its eventual issuance will hand investors the right to convert these tokens into Palladium shares three years after they are issued.
“We expect this project, which will create more than 100 job opportunities, to be a historic landmark and to bridge the gap between traditional financial services and crypto-currencies,” Palladium founder and chairman Paolo Catalfamo said at the press conference marking the ICCO’s launch.
Catalfamo’s company Investar, which owns 85% of the shares in Palladium, also has a controlling stake in Global Capital plc., a Maltese financial services company.
The other shareholders in Palladium includes Las Vegas-based eSports betting company Unikrn Inc., which is founded by former Microsoft Ventures CEO Rahul Sood.
Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that blockchain technology would create a new economic niche for Malta, which would generate more jobs and wealth.
Proud to welcome https://t.co/x10dOsKdgJ project to #Malta This new venture, with participation of @BittrexExchange and @UnikrnCo will offer an exciting innovation in the #blockhainisland ecosystem -JM pic.twitter.com/8wnuNqHgct
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) July 10, 2018
The government and all other stakeholders in the industry are paving the way for Malta to be a Blockchain island, the Prime Minister said.
“The three pieces of Blockchain legislation which were passed in Parliament recently form the start of a new exciting journey putting Malta in the frontline,” he said.
For his part, Catalfamo said, “Institutional investors recognize the scale of the opportunity, but the lack of regulation has kept them watching from the sidelines. We expect Palladium’s solution will change this. Cutting-edge blockchain technology will allow customers to use regulation-compliant, multi-asset accounts to manage fiat and crypto currencies.”
Parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri highlighted that Malta now had a legal framework for blockchain, which showed the island embracing and anticipating new technology. He said that the University of Malta would be starting new degree courses on this new technology this year in order to train those working in the sector.
Palladium’s fundraising target is €150 million, with the pre-sale of tokens launched on Tuesday. The offering period for subscription of the tokenized securities will run from July 30 to September 30.
The company said that proceeds will be used to “support the three core blocks of Palladium’s solution”—50% will go towards the acquisition of a controlling interest in a European bank; 35% into the formation of a regulated crypto-exchange and the development of a clearing and settlement blockchain platform; and 15% into strategic investments in financial services and blockchain companies”.
The Palladium crypto exchange will be the result of a partnership between Palladium, Unikrn and Bittrex, the well-known digital trading platform.
Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara said that the company was committed to the project and was looking forward to introducing the new exchange which would be making use of the plethora of digital tokens available on its platform.
“Our partnership will launch a new trading platform powered by Bittrex technology, and its customers will have access to the large selection of innovative utility tokens listed on Bittrex, which we chose using our industry-leading token review process.”
Shihara said the project would help further increase adoption of blockchain technology while continuing to expand Bittrex’s business globally.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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