Malta’s Finance and Employment Minister, Clyde Caruana, said the country’s plan to become a “blockchain island” is being constrained by the reluctance of local banks to partner with innovative companies.
In the local media outlet Lovin Malta, Caruana noted that few local companies have managed to find banking partners, confirming: “Traditional banks have written off the blockchain in its infancy.”
Banks must be convinced that this can actually happen; It will be very difficult without banks. ”
Caruana highlighted the need to invest in building the necessary skills locally to support a thriving blockchain sector, saying, “There is always the potential [to become a blockchain island], but if we want that to happen, it must be more work. ”
What Caruana calls “retail banking uncertainty” affects not only blockchain, but other emerging industries such as the island’s plan to support medical cannabis. In addition to the apparent lack of interest from the banking sector, the minister stressed that the lack of local skills hinders the development of new industries in Malta:
“It’s not just a matter of new or old industries, it’s a matter of skills. [If] investors don’t find what they are looking for, they might think about it. If we want to continue attracting investment in Malta, we need to make sure we have the right skills. ”
Malta’s parliament passed blockchain-compatible rules in 2018 as part of its efforts to become a global cryptocurrency and DLT hub, and the island quickly became home to the offices of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance and OKEx.
However, the sacking of former Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in February 2020 led to the exposure that Malta’s Financial Services Authority had not licensed any crypto companies.
While Malta’s new administration has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to transforming Malta into a global cryptocurrency hub, progress is still slow – although debit card provider and exchange platform Crypto.com became the first company to receive a license from Malta’s local financial regulator on November 24.