Maltese banks disrupt ‘blockchain island’ plans: official

Plans to turn Malta into one of the world’s leading jurisdictions for digital currency businesses have been dealt a blow by local banks, with the island’s institutions still unwilling to service firms in the sector, according to recent comments from a senior government official.

Finance and Employment Minister Clyde Caruana said that local startups had found it difficult to secure basic banking services from the commercial sector due to a reluctance to support cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses.

In an interview with local press, Caruana said it was imperative to get the backing of commercial banks in order to facilitate the growth of the sector in Malta.

“Traditional banks have written off blockchain at its early stages. The banks must be convinced that this is something that can really happen; unless banks are on board it will be very difficult.”

The minister said there was a need to work to build the right skills and commercial environment for firms to establish in Malta, but that it would require support from all sides in order to make it happen.

“There’s always the potential [to be a blockchain island] but if we want to make it happen, there must be more work.”

“It’s not just about whether the industries are new or old, but rather a question of skills. [If] investors don’t find what they require, they may think twice. If we want to keep on attracting investment to Malta, we must make sure we have what it takes in terms of skills.”

Back in 2018, Malta’s parliament passed legislation designed to support the emerging digital currency and blockchain sectors there, providing legal certainty for startups in the industry. However, with the inertia in the banking system holding back progress, it looks like the vision of Malta as the world’s leading jurisdiction for digital businesses could still be some way off.

See also: CoinGeek Live panel on Regulation of Digital Assets & Digital Asset Businesses

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