Business

Gerald Fenech

Malta attracts yet another cryptocurrency exchange—OKEx

Hot on the heels of Binance declaring that it is coming to Malta, cryptocurrency exchange OKEx confirmed that it’s also setting its sights on the Mediterranean Island, which has proudly declared itself to be the “Blockchain Island.”

In a blog post on Thursday, OKEx announced that it was looking favourably at moving its operations to Malta since there was a lot of potential for the technology to move forward. Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy Silvio Schembri posed for a photograph with Tim Byun and Chris Lee, top officials of OKEx whilst tweeting the announcement.

“Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry. More specifically, Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem,” explained Tim Byun, chief risk officer and head of government relations at OKEx.

“We look forward to working with the Malta government as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values, the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem,” added OKEx CEO Chris Lee.

Incidentally, Malta has just proposed major anti-money laundering legislation which is expected to sail through the local Parliament. This continues to confirm the much vaunted hype behind the Mediterranean island of Malta, which has already secured a major coup with Binance founder Changpeng Zhao tweeting his support for further expansion in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries.

OKEx is currently based outside of Hong Kong and is operating from Japan, but has actively been considering a move from some time following regulatory clampdowns in the Asian country.

Malta, on the other hand, has begun actively courting cryptocurrency firms. Government officials have said that they want to transform the EU member state into a “Blockchain Island” through the passage of blockchain-friendly legislation.

The island saw the first major fruits of those efforts in March, as Hong Kong-based exchange Binance—currently the largest in the world—confirmed that it would move to Malta and not establish its base in Japan as previously planned.

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat personally welcomed the company to the region, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has said that he is aware of more than 20 cryptocurrency projects considering a move to Malta. Amongst these is the TRON project backed by Justin Sun, who has also tweeted his support for Malta’s ambitious moves in the region.

OKEx and Binance are not the only Hong Kong-based exchanges plotting to relocate their operations. Bitfinex, the sixth-largest cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly to move its headquarters to Switzerland.

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