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Malta’s Pivots to Becoming a Fintech Haven

Crypto enthusiasts and industry observers alike are asking what happened after the joyous announcements and parties. A better question would be to ask what happened before all that. In short, there is an essential mismatch between the original vision in 2017 and the original actions taken in 2018. To see the mismatch, ask yourself a … Continued

The post Malta’s Pivots to Becoming a Fintech Haven appeared first on BeInCrypto.

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The Malta “Blockchain Island” story that captured crypto-loving hearts in 2018 came to a sudden end in early 2020. The announcement by the Maltese government that it is pivoting to becoming a fintech center is only the most direct message this year of the failure by the government to square the circle of cryptocurrencies and the legacy system. Other signs, mostly confined to the banking sector, confirm the change.

Crypto enthusiasts and industry observers alike are asking what happened after the joyous announcements and parties. A better question would be to ask what happened before all that. In short, there is an essential mismatch between the original vision in 2017 and the original actions taken in 2018. To see the mismatch, ask yourself a question: “Why would I brand a coin haven, ‘Blockchain Island’?”

One of six

BeInCrypto asked Steve Tendon, who coined the phrase “Blockchain Island” in 2017, about the mismatch. He replied that cryptocurrency was only one of the six main points underlying the blockchain concept. These points were:

  • Public registries/services on the blockchain;
  • R&D, education and innovation with and on the blockchain;
  • Appoint a blockchain regulator and create a regulatory infrastructure;
  • Regulate cryptocurrencies/tokens, including exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICO);
  • E-residency and digital identity (of individuals and legal entities) on the blockchain;
  • Smart governance.

However, the focus quickly fell upon cryptocurrency. On Feb. 23, 2017, at the CEPS Ideas Lab conference, Malta’s then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat claimed that “Europe should become the bitcoin continent.” Tendon notes in his Chain Strategies blog post on Malta’s course that:

“A lot of work had to be done to refocus the project on the idea that blockchain technologies, and not cryptocurrencies, had to take center stage.”

Moves to realize the non-crypto aspects of the vision commenced. The Ministry of Education and Employment announced in 2017, that it would put academic records on blockchain. The fanfare was minimal.

Pivot I

Despite the attempt to keep to the original script, though, the allure of crypto proved overwhelming.

The idea was simple, if you believed Muscat. In 2018, Malta would pass three laws designed to set the country up as “Blockchain Island.” In the face of ever-tightening regulation in the United States and in particular Asia, the vision of a crypto haven would catch the attention of many companies in the industry. In the short term, it worked.

The three laws, passed on July 4, 2018, were met with great acclaim in the industry. These laws were:

  • Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA Act);
  • Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS Act);
  • Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act (MDIA Act).

Commercial confirmation of Muscat’s vision came as well. Binance, the largest trading platform in the world, at the time, landed in Malta precisely because of fears of regulatory issues in Hong Kong, after being banned in Japan early in 2018. Shortly afterward, Binance’s main competitor on the exchange markets, OKEx, followed suit.  

However, cracks began to appear, once implementation met bureaucratic and commercial realities. Incoming companies wrangled with bureaucratic issues. But at the heart of the matter was banking. It became very difficult for crypto startups to be banked in Malta.

Banking their replacements – not

Malta’s efforts ran into a commercial snag: banks were in no hurry to service blockchain and crypto-oriented companies setting up shop on the island. The irony of banks refusing to open accounts for companies who are setting up an alternative to banks seems to have been lost, but the problem is real enough.

Malta’s largest banks, HSBC and Bank of Valetta, are under direct European Central Bank (ECB) scrutiny due to their market share. However, smaller banks trying to fill the gap in the local market soon learned to fear getting caught up in money laundering schemes and becoming the next example of what happens when banks go bad.

Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has launched investigations into — and recommended that the ECB revoke the licences of — a few banks that catered to igaming and financial services, but also engaged in suspicious transactions. These moves by the MFSA occurred while Malta faced attention from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL). 

MONEYVAL’s committee visited Malta in November 2018 as part of their review of the country’s status in implementing anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) measures.

MONEYVAL found Malta’s AML/CFT implementation to be spotty, especially in terms of investigations and enforcement. After an unimpressive 2019 follow-up visit, MONEYVAL gave the country a year to clean house or be placed under even greater monitoring measures.

Malta’s investigations into Pilatus Bank and Satabank were attempts to signal to all that the government could flex its muscles. Gaining bank accounts as well as licences would be an uphill battle. Tendon told BeInCrypto that reputational risk could well have taken its toll in this matter.

Pivot II

Physical events in Malta also had a bearing on the course of the would-be crypto haven. PM Muscat was linked substantially with the now infamous “Panama Papers” leaks by murdered journalist Daphne Anne Vella. Muscat, who had won a second term in the July 2017 general election, was forced out of office due to the ensuing scandal. He resigned effective Jan. 13, 2020.

The new government of PM Robert Abela is progressively moving Malta’s stance away from the previous emphasis on crypto-focused companies and toward a more nuanced return to Tendon’s original idea. The government introduced a regulatory sandbox for fintech companies in July 2020.

A full 70 per cent of the companies, which flocked to Malta at the beginning of the crypto haven phase, failed to file for full licensing. Malta is not begging them to return, and the new government gained attention by reporting to media that anchor Binance was not Malta-licensed in financial services terms.

Onward to 2021

Maltese regulators have been busy in fall 2020. At the end of October, VAIOT, a developer of AI-powered digital services, successfully registered its white paper with MFSA and thus became the first project regulated under the VFAA.

On Nov. 24, Crypto.com gained both a Financial Institution License and a Class 3 Virtual Financial Assets License. 

Despite the twists and turns of Malta’s journey, the essential, blockchain regulatory structure remains for the government to build upon. As Tendon told BeInCrypto: “The MDIA act and the ITAS act are still two ground-breaking laws that would serve as the basis for a ‘blockchain’-focused agenda.”

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James Hydzik is a finance and technology writer and editor based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is especially interested in the development of regulation in the face of increasingly rapid technological change. He previously covered the CEE region for Financial Times banking and FDI magazines. An ardent believer in gut renovating eastern Europe one flat at a time, he currently holds more home renovation gear than crypto.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/maltas-pivots-to-becoming-a-fintech-haven/

Blockchain

Bitcoin: Has the bull market faded?

2021 has proven itself to be quite a promising year for Bitcoin, with its price action on the charts enabling it to register new ATHs. However, over the past 7 days, the bullish momentum has faded, wi

The post Bitcoin: Has the bull market faded? appeared first on AMBCrypto.

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2021 has proven itself to be quite a promising year for Bitcoin, with its price action on the charts enabling it to register new ATHs. However, over the past 7 days, the bullish momentum has faded, with Bitcoin retracing all way from around $41k to where it stood at press time ($32,600).

However, does the reversal signal the end of the bull run or the start of a wider scale correction akin to what happened in January 2018? Or, as most traders would have it, is Bitcoin’s price finally stabilizing above its previous ATH and maintaining much of the gains it raked up since December 2020?

Source: Santiment

Interestingly, Bitcoin’s social volume metric can help elaborate on what happened, with the world’s largest cryptocurrency enduring a price correction amounting to close to 10 percent.

Santiment’s data showed that as Bitcoin fell to $31.1k, its social volume – a metric that helps traders determine the market sentiment and where the price will head in the short-term – increased and registered a 6-day high. Given the increased demand for Bitcoin over the past few months, from both retail and institutions, it wasn’t much of a surprise that many saw the dip in price as an interesting buying opportunity.

Source: Santiment

On the other hand, there have been certain caveats to Bitcoin’s positive sentiment. What was noticed according to the data provider was that there was a sudden surge in negative commentary around Bitcoin. While a major share of the market seemed to have its faith in Bitcoin unshaken, Santiment’s data also hinted at the fact that a bigger price correction cannot be overlooked for the king coin. While it is unlikely that a drop to its November 2020 valuation is going to happen, a further dip that takes Bitcoin’s price below $30k cannot be discounted.

However, there are still strong bullish signs that one needs to consider before coming to any substantial conclusions regarding Bitcoin’s fortunes in the coming weeks and months.

Hodlers have traditionally played a key role when it comes to Bitcoin maintaining its price and securing significant returns for its investors. According to Glassnode’s Liquid Supply Change charts for Bitcoin, the crypto’s price continues to be fairly secure, with the same revealing that a large-scale dip on the charts looked quite unlikely.

Source: Glassnode

According to the data provided, Bitcoin is seeing the largest depletion of liquidity in a few years, with a majority of the Bitcoin being moved from exchanges into non-exchange entities that are to be hodled for long periods of time. This is a very important aspect of Bitcoin’s 2021 price action and can back up the argument that Bitcoin’s price is going to hold its ground without losing much to the bears in the coming weeks.

In the past month alone, a whopping 270,000 Bitcoins have moved to entities considered HODLers. With the backing of large accounts that continue to hodl, Bitcoin may see occasional dips and corrections, but the bullish market momentum is likely to remain and help stabilize the coin’s price.

Source: https://ambcrypto.com/bitcoin-has-the-bull-market-faded

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Blockchain

BTC Price Will Replace S&P 500: Michael Saylor

Michael Saylor, Bitcoin bull and MicroStrategy CEO, spoke on CNBC’s Power Lunch about the future of bitcoin. MicroStrategy just bought $10 million worth of the digital currency, and he was asked about the future of bitcoin. After BTC Replaces Gold As a ‘technically superior asset’, Michael Saylor noted, BTC is the ideal institutional safe haven … Continued

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Michael Saylor sees bitcoin, the ideal institutional safe haven asset, replacing stock indices.

Michael Saylor, Bitcoin bull and MicroStrategy CEO, spoke on CNBC’s Power Lunch about the future of bitcoin. MicroStrategy just bought $10 million worth of the digital currency, and he was asked about the future of bitcoin.

After BTC Replaces Gold

As a ‘technically superior asset’, Michael Saylor noted, BTC is the ideal institutional safe haven asset. He sees it as replacing gold.

Besides Saylor, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Blackrock, and others see BTC as affecting the gold price or replacing gold as an asset. However, Saylor took his prognosis a step further and said that BTC could replace stock indices such as the S&P 500 or the Dow. Cash-rich corporations are “saying that cash is a liability; they have to find an asset that’s going to appreciate faster than the rate of monetary expansion.”

After that occurs, bitcoin will find itself even further integrated into the business world. It will become the monetary index that replaces stock and bond indices such as the S&P 500 and the Dow. “People that want a safe haven store of value…for the next 10 to 30 years are going to be attracted to a digital asset that has no inflation in it.”

People that want a safe haven store of value…for the next 10 to 30 years are going to be attracted to a digital asset that has no inflation in it.

70,784 BTC, +/-

Saylor’s CNBC interview came as MicroStrategy announced that it had bought another 10,000. This takes the company’s total bitcoin holdings in its reserves to about 70,784 BTC. MicroStrategy bought this latest round of 314 bitcoin at an average of $31,808 per coin. 

An IT company with a twist

MicroStrategy is still a business intelligence and professional services company. However, Saylor and his team use bitcoin as a store of value for an increasing portion of the corporation’s treasury. As CNBC notes, this results in the company’s stock price tracking bitcoin’s. “It’s almost become a stock market proxy for crypto,” said host Morgan L Brennan.

When Brennan asked Saylor about this, he noted that because companies want to convert the liability of cash into an asset, they will do one of two things. Many will do what MicroStrategy has done. They will directly purchase bitcoin. Others will go the route of Square and Paypal, and will build bitcoin into their product offerings.

Moreover, Saylor noted that the company’s employees are “pretty delighted” with the company’s moves, as they are “pioneers” in terms of utilizing this technology.

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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James Hydzik is a finance and technology writer and editor based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is especially interested in the development of regulation in the face of increasingly rapid technological change. He previously covered the CEE region for Financial Times banking and FDI magazines. An ardent believer in gut renovating eastern Europe one flat at a time, he currently holds more home renovation gear than crypto.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/__trashed-4/

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Futuristicx Hybrid Conclave: Driving Customer Experience through Technologies

The Middle East currently is the biggest digital hub with a massive technological transformation taking place. In the past one decade the Middle Eastern market has completely migrated its infrastructure to a digital platform. The current pandemic has enabled a forced acceleration in technological development to better serve the customer and meet their ever-changing expectations. … Continued

The post Futuristicx Hybrid Conclave: Driving Customer Experience through Technologies appeared first on BeInCrypto.

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The Middle East currently is the biggest digital hub with a massive technological transformation taking place. In the past one decade the Middle Eastern market has completely migrated its infrastructure to a digital platform.

The current pandemic has enabled a forced acceleration in technological development to better serve the customer and meet their ever-changing expectations. In today’s time, consumer loyalty has shifted from product and price to customer experience.

It has become imperative for the organization to re-align its strategies to retain the customers. Companies are re-modeling their legacy systems to provide a better customer journey and build tailor made solutions available with a single click for their consumers.

Considering all these parameters in the region, Exibex is proudly announcing the launch of Futuristicx Hybrid Conclave 2021 scheduled on 16th March 2021 on a hybrid platform. Themed on driving customer experience through disruptive technologies, this event will be hosted on-site for a live audience (Conrad Hotel, Dubai) and on a virtual platform simultaneously.

This summit will be focusing on technologies like RPA, Analytics, AI, Blockchain, Robotics, Cloud, and Automations that are being adopted to drive customer excellence in the cross-industry domain.

The aim of the summit is to help the industries learn and share their experiences when it comes to enlightening the path to the right customer journey approach.

Join us at this HYBRID SUMMIT either on site from the comfort of your home/office to indulge yourselves in thought provoking presentations and interactive panel discussions by the industry wizards. Keeping in the consideration of the present market situations, we are bringing one of its kind experiences to reconnect the industry while following necessary norms of your safety.

Futuristicx Hybrid Conclave is a platform created to bring all the stakeholders under one roof yet again and embrace the new normal. This is a stage to better prepare ourselves for the unpredictable future and safeguard our organization from the unknown challenges on our way.

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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The opinion of BeInCrypto staff in a single voice.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/futuristicx-hybrid-conclave-driving-customer-experience-through-technologies/

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Blockchain

Buying the Bitcoin Dip: MicroStrategy Scoops $10M Worth of BTC Following $7K Daily Crash

Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy continues to scoop up BTC whenever they seem to get the chance. The company has just bought another $10 million following the most recent price crash.

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Michael Saylor’s Bitcoin bet appears to be far from over as his company MicroStrategy has acquired even more BTC despite the crypto price experiencing a significant retrace over the last couple of days.

  • MicroStrategy has added more Bitcoin to its balance sheet according to an announcement issued on Friday (Jan. 22, 2021).
  • The business intelligence firm has acquired 314 BTC for $10 million increasing its Bitcoin holdings to over 70,784 “coins.”
  • MicroStrategy’s announcement also revealed that it bought its BTC lump at a price of about $31,808 per coin.
  • The company began buying BTC back in August 2020, after making a bitcoin purchase worth $250 million. Since its initial purchase, the company has since been on a bitcoin buying spree, even raising more than $650 million in debt for another BTC purchase.
  • At the time, MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor described Bitcoin as a viable hedge against monetary debasement.
  • Since its first Bitcoin purchase announcement, the company’s stock price has risen more than 320%.Indeed, MicroStrategy’s pivot to Bitcoin seemed to trigger a herd of institutional adopters who added the largest crypto by market capitalization to their balance sheets.
  • Other publicly-listed firms including asset managers and insurance companies have also bought Bitcoin. Companies like Ruffer Investment bought about $750 million worth of BTC.
  • As of the time of writing, Bitcoin appears to be recovering from a 30% slump that its price below $30,000 for the first time since Jan. 4.
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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/buying-the-bitcoin-dip-microstrategy-scoops-10m-worth-of-btc-following-7k-daily-crash/

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