Malta And Vanuatu To Form ‘Commonwealth Of Blockchain Islands”?

Malta has agreed to assist Vanuatu with the development of blockchain and ICO legislation.

Vanuatu has asked Malta to assist with the drafting of blockchain and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) legislation, according to a Vanuatu Daily Post report from 8th October.

Apparently, the request was made by Ni-Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu Ralph Regenvanu during a meeting with Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat and Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri.

It seems the Maltese authorities have already responded favourably to the request, agreeing to help the Pacific nation set up regulations based on the innovative Maltese model.

A Commonwealth of Blockchain Islands?

Again, according to the Vanuatu Daily Post report, Regenvanu went as far as suggesting the countries form a “Commonwealth of Blockchain Islands” in the interests of implementing blockchain regulatory standards – something which the Maltese Prime Minster “warmly welcomed.”

The Maltese look set to train Ni-Vanuatu students and regulators, provide technical assistance regarding blockchain, DLT and ICO legislation, and also help with financial oversight. The offshore financial industry has long been important to Vanuatu, and providing a blockchain-friendly environment will help develop the fintech sector.

Just last month, The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) issued a warning regarding cryptocurrencies, saying that the digital currencies were “not recognized as legal tender in Vanuatu and are not issued or regulated by the bank,” according to the Vanuatu Daily Post.

It seems the warning spooked local authorities, resulting in the suspension of issuing Financial Dealer Licenses (FDL) to crypto and blockchain businesses, pending the introduction of specific legislation.

Interestingly however, as of October 2017, it became possible to buy citizenship of Vanuatu using Bitcoin (BTC). The current cost is $200,000 – about 30 BTC at current rates. The Maltese government also offer citizenship for sale, but so far only accept fiat payments.

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Malta setting the pace in the blockchain race

Malta has rapidly become the leading blockchain, DLT, ICO and AI jurisdiction after it passed three bills specifically setting out a legal framework for the industries.

The Maltese government has been very active in promoting the island as home for the emerging technologies, with Prime Minister Muscat recently delivering an inspired speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he said that the rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain was inevitable, and that it could change the world for the better, economically and socially, but only for those nations that embraced it.

The Malta-Vanuatu collaboration highlights just how much of an advantage micro nations have in the new digital global economy. In a previous article, AYO looked at how small countries including Malta, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Monaco are taking advantage of their political nimbleness to rapidly implement blockchain-friendly legislation.

And, if you’re wondering where on Earth Vanuatu actually is…

The nation, located in the South Pacific, 1,750km east of northern Australia, 540km northeast of  New Caledonia, east of New Guinea, southeast of the Solomon Islands and west of Fiji, consists of some 82 small islands of which 65 are inhabited.

Vanuatu had a population of just 272,459 according to the 2016 census, who speak Bislama (a pidgin language combining Melanesian grammar with a mostly English vocabulary), English and French. Indeed, until independence in 1980, Vanuatu was called the New Hebrides and subject to a complicated Anglo-French colonial administration.

(Photo: ID 68891479 © Ramoran | Dreamstime.com)

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