Business

Dan Taylor

First batch of crypto asset agents gets green light in Malta

The chief financial services regulator in Malta has given in-principle approval to 14 new cryptocurrency companies under the country’s Virtual Financial Assets regime, in a move that will see a raft of new operators licensed to trade in Malta.

The firms have applied for agent status as Virtual Financial Asset agents, a role central to upholding compliance under Malta’s new regulatory structures, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) announced on Tuesday.

VFA agents are required as joint signatories to token sales, with a responsibility to advise those promoting token issues of their compliance obligations under the Virtual Financial Assets Bill and other applicable laws.

VFA agents are also expected to confirm firms are not in contravention of any relevant laws, including both cryptocurrency-specific and wider financial and securities laws. According to lawmakers, the role was created to put compliance at the forefront of the country’s emerging cryptocurrency sector.

The role of VFA agent was created under the legislation, passed in June 2018. Dr. Christopher Buttigieg, head of securities and markets supervision, said the move was an important step on the journey to establishing the world’s most effective system of crypto regulation.

“The issuance of these in-principle approvals is an important milestone in the MFSA’s effort at becoming a regulator of excellence in the field of the regulation of crypto assets,” he explained. “We have worked actively since November 2017, when we started our regulatory journey in the field of crypto assets and today we have a complete framework that caters for all areas of risk, being inter alia the risks to consumers, market integrity, financial crime and cyber security.”

Malta has become one of the foremost jurisdictions for cryptocurrency and blockchain startups, thanks to its favourable regulatory structure. Malta has been amongst the most proactive in establishing a formal body of legislation around cryptocurrency, providing legal certainty for businesses established and operating in the jurisdiction.

Along with Gibraltar, the country is actively vying for new blockchain business, as it seeks to become a global hub for the emerging blockchain sectors.

With 14 newly approved firms set to begin working with token issuers Malta is poised to capitalize on ongoing growth in the blockchain industry.

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