How Malta transformed into the ‘Isle of Blockchain’

Thanks to the government’s blockchain strategy, generous tax breaks and an unusual citizenship by investment programme, Malta has become a hub for blockchain startups.
31 May 2018

Malta is attracting a lot of investors and blockchain companies. Source: Shutterstock

Malta is one of the first countries to have approved a national strategy and regulatory body to promote blockchain – lightyears ahead of many of its European competitors.

The country’s forward-thinking strategy on a nascent but exponentially growing technology has earned it the moniker ‘The Isle of Blockchain’.

So, what does the miniscule Mediterranean island of Malta offer that has blockchain SME flocking?

It’s Blockchain Strategy

The Malta Blockchain Strategy was approved earlier in the year putting the country at the forefront of regulating the distributed ledger technology.

“I understand that regulators are wary of this technology but the fact is that it’s coming. We must be on the frontline in embracing this crucial innovation, and we cannot just wait for others to take action and copy them. We must be the ones that others copy,” Hon. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta said previously.

Under the new legislation, three types of blockchain platforms will be regulated: private platforms for private consumption; private platforms extended to third parties; all public platforms, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin

Being one of the first countries to have a national strategy and authority has provided the solid framework and certainty that startups and especially investors crave.

Whereas, in most other countries blockchain operates in an unregulated market not knowing what future legislation will bring.

It Wants Blockchain to Run its Services

The government has made it clear it wants blockchain to contribute to the economic and structural development of Malta running.

Most recently a partnership was signed with multi-enterprise blockchain platform Omnitude to use blockchain to enhance its public transportation services via a transport and logistics platform.

And fortunately, most blockchain startups have the agility required to up and relocate when a good offer comes along, making Malta the new Silicon Valley for blockchain.

Companies flocking to the island include Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, the formerly Berlin-based Neufund, an equity fundraising platform which announced its move to the Isle in April and OKEx, a digital asset exchange.

Coinvest recently announced a move from the US to Malta, stating it is directly working with the government to lead a new level of innovation for both blockchain technology and the administration itself.

Justin Sun, founder, and CEO of TRON, the decentralized entertainment platform, recently said his company was “seriously considering” a move to Malta, according to The Times of Malta.

In November, the island will host The Malta Blockchain Summit that will see around 4,000 delegates descend on the island.

Exceptional Terms for Foreign Professionals 

Beyond blockchain’s regulatory framework, Malta offers very good terms for companies and individuals looking to invest in the island.

For example, the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme enables individuals to gain citizenship, and subsequently a gateway to the EU, by buying property and investing around one million euros.

Furthermore, Malta has introduced an incentive scheme targeting foreign professionals in the financial services, gaming, and aviation sectors a flat personal income-tax rate of 15 percent on income up to €5 million – a rate much lower than most other EU countries.

Overall, Malta’s blockchain strategy is paying off. Companies are relocating to the island because it is ahead of the game on blockchain regulation, it is conveniently located in the heart of Europe and because it offers attractive terms for foreign companies that bring value.