Malta has now attracted its second major cryptocurrency exchange, with OKEx declaring in a company statement that it has “decided to make Malta a foundation for further OKEx growth”.
OKEx is one of the largest exchanges in the world, handling over $1 billion worth of trades daily. It is originally from China but it is now internationally based, with offices in Belize and Hong Kong. It has chosen Malta because Malta has been making an effort to be an attractive jurisdiction for cryptocurrency companies.
In fact, Silvio Schembri, Maltese Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy, and Innovation, said to Cointelegraph: “We are not shying away but instead want to unleash the opportunities that holds by regulating the sector without stifling innovation. Ultimately our vision is to make Malta ‘The Blockchain Island’.”
Most recently, the country joined 21 other EU member states in signing up to the European Blockchain Partnership, which is a kind of mutual pledge to develop the technology for the public good.
The efforts of the Maltese government were rewarded when Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, announced its intention to set up headquarters on the Mediterranean island after it ran into a spot of trouble in Japan. Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng said: “We are very confident we can announce a banking partnership there soon. Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech.”
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat personally welcomed the exchange:
Welcome to #Malta 🇲🇹 @binance. We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies -JM @SilvioSchembri https://t.co/3qtAQjOpuQ
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) March 23, 2018
Muscat also said in a speech that his government intends to “take the first step” by regulating the new sector and making it legitimate: “The most exciting part is that they (Binance) are not the first. They hit the headlines because they are the biggest ones. They are not saying that they are coming to Malta because they can do what they want. They are saying they are coming because Malta is ready to regulate us, and we are bringing the consumer the peace of mind that there are people regulating this system.”
Other companies that have expressed interest in setting up in Malta include Tron (a cryptocurrency with a market cap of $2 billion+) and Monaco Card, a cryptocurrency wallet provider.
In the last 2 weeks, I am aware of 20+ large cap crypto projects confirm establishing/moving/investing in Malta. There are probably more that I am not aware of. Let's build a healthy and vibrant blockchain economy in Malta. https://t.co/1zXGcceutP
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) April 5, 2018
OKEx says in its statement that it has met with Maltese government representatives already to discuss the matter.
CEO Chris Lee said: “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.”