E&S Group’s Dr. Christian Ellul: Crypto businesses get ‘Rolls Royce treatment’ in Malta

Malta is one of the first jurisdictions to embrace cryptocurrencies, providing a competitive environment for companies in the space, similar to the island’s iGaming industry. The E&S Group has been among the first legal services firms aiding startups and those exploring cryptocurrencies and blockchain for the first time.

“We started way back when there was nothing of all this,” E&S Group Director Dr. Christian Ellul said, referring to the present vibrancy of the cryptocurrency sector. “It was an unregulated environment, so we tried to help clients fit within the client regulations which were there. For example, ICOs, we structured as what we called reward-based crowdfunding events, to make sure we were compliant. Of course, now we have specific legislation just for that, which makes it easier and gives comfort to people who are investing, and even clients who feel, okay, they’re really getting like the Rolls Royce of treatment here.”

The firm has released its own token for availing of its services. “The last year, we’ve really focused on crypto and blockchain advisory. We’ve started assisting ICOs, in all their legal documents, all their legal work, now exchanges, OTC and all that, so we’re very much embedded in it. So we said, okay, what better way to do it than also have our token? So we have an ESTS token that connects to our services. People come pay our services apart from the main Bitcoin and alts,” Ellul said.

Holding such offerings was good in terms of public relations, according to Ellul, but also it showed that “we went through the process ourselves. We’re not just advising clients about something we don’t know about. We actually did it ourselves, in private placements, so I think that gives us the edge compared to others, because we really know what we’re doing.”

It makes sense, according to Ellul, to also provide assistance to those in iGaming. “There’s a nice relationship between gaming and crypto. Malta has been very well positioned because Malta regulated gaming a long time ago, it being a high-risk industry, and therefore, it’s a natural continuation to now regulate crypto, which is also seen as a high-risk industry. So then I think Malta really could bridge that gap by being the first in gaming and also among the first in crypto and blockchain,” he said.

The link between gaming and cryptocurrencies is evident in E&S Group’s clients’ activities. Ellul explained, “I think blockchain is useable for everyone in the world, and including gaming, but gaming tends to lend itself to blockchain. We have ICOs that are funding, for example, a gaming company. We have other gaming companies that want to start using cryptocurrencies, and that’s basically sandbox allocation rules by the MGA [Malta Gaming Association] now, so they really do link in well.”

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‘Dubious’ crypto platform claims to be holding Malta license

Malta’s financial watchdog has issued a warning to investors after it uncovered a cryptocurrency trading platform falsely claiming to be licensed in the jurisdiction, the latest BTC scam of its kind to target unsuspecting investors.

The platform, called Primetradingbot, claimed to offer high-yield BTC investments, and appeared to be targeting unsophisticated investors who still believe the BTC coin has a future. According to the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), the scheme has a “dubious nature with a high risk of loss of money,” as it urged investors to stick to those firms genuinely licensed by the MFSA.

The MFSA warned investors to be cautious, saying that “although this entity purports to operate from an address in Malta, the MFSA does not believe this to be the case.”

On its website, the regulator said, “The MFSA wishes to alert the public, in Malta and abroad, that Primetradingbot is not licenced or otherwise authorised by the MFSA to provide any investment or other financial services which are required to be licenced or otherwise authorised under Maltese law.”

The much-coveted Maltese licensing scheme requires all practitioners working with crypto companies to complete “continuous professional education,” and to sit an exam in order to practice within the crypto sector.

Falsely claiming authorisation from the regulator therefore implies a level of competence, as well as compliance—neither of which Primetradingbot is qualified to represent to its customers.

Furthermore, the MFSA said that by misrepresenting its licensing status, Primetradingbot was breaking the law, as well as undermining any trust in its other claims.

The warning is the latest concerning BTC scams of this type, which have been increasing in number in recent months. Despite the significant and ongoing downturn in BTC prices, fraudsters are still relying on BTC scams to take advantage of their victims.

Regarded as one of the more forward-thinking jurisdictions for crypto regulation, Malta has been dubbed “Blockchain Island,” with an increasing number of firms choosing to legitimately set up shop in the country.

A full list of crypto businesses licensed in Malta is available from MFSA, with the regulator urging investors and businesses to check before dealing with any firms claiming to be licensed by the authority.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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India’s Zebpay sets up overseas operations

After suspending its trading operations in India, cryptocurrency exchange Zebpay is reportedly setting its sights on “global domination.”

Zebpay has yet to make an official announcement about its overseas operations plans. However, Indiabits tweeted last week that the Indian crypto company has set up entities in Singapore and Malta, which reportedly will enable it to “provide cryptocurrency exchange and OTC services to 20 countries in Europe.”

On its website, Zebpay identified Awlencan Innovations Malta Ltd., a Maltese registered company, which owns and operates the Zebpay VFA Exchange Platform in Malta. Awlencan Innovation Pte. Ltd., meanwhile, is a Singapore-based blockchain company that was formed in May 2018.

Zebpay is planning to offer cryptocurrency exchanges services and OTC services to 20 countries in Europe, according to Indiabits. These countries include Belgium, Malta, Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Portugal, Poland, Netherlands, and Latvia.

Zebpay will not extend its services to restricted jurisdictions, especially those sanctioned by the United States like Iran and Venezuela. The company will also not offer its services to the customers in U.S. and Japan.

For its new operations, Zebpay stated that it would exercise strict know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering processes. All customers will be allowed to have only one account. Any accounts with same identification details will be closed.

The decision to increase its global reach comes two weeks after the company announced that it would be shutting down its cryptocurrency exchanges in India. According to reports, Zebpay closed shop in India following the Reserve Bank of India’s ban on all crypto-related businesses.

At the time, Zebpay stated that they were unable to continue their operations in India as they could not find reasonable ways to run their services without drawing the ire of the authorities. Despite being one of India’s largest cryptocurrency, the current crypto situation forced Zebpay to look for better markets. Many entities in the country have challenged the RBI ban. The matter has been taken to the Supreme Court and is yet to be resolved.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Malta’s Prime Minister to UN Assembly: Crypto is the inevitable future

Malta wants to be the world’s crypto and blockchain hub – everyone already knows this. So far, it is well on its way, already attracting several major exchanges and blockchain-based enterprises to its landscape, and also by becoming one of the first countries to introduce crypto legislation. Joseph Muscat, the Mediterranean island nation’s prime minister, recognizes all too well the important role crypto is playing in the evolution of currency, and recently told the United Nations (UN) that crypto is unequivocally the currency of the future.

During a meeting of the UN General Assembly, Muscat asserted, “I passionately believe technology revolutionizes and improves systems. This is why in Malta, we have launched ourselves as the blockchain island. By being the first jurisdiction worldwide to regulate this new technology that previously existed in a legal vacuum. Blockchain makes cryptocurrencies inevitable future of money. More transparent it helps filter good business from bad business.”

Muscat also explained that the country’s government is passionate about blockchains and their ability to completely eliminate the need for third-party providers in financial transactions. He suspects that the blockchain will ultimately evolve to include solutions that can replace the entire infrastructure of a number of industries, including charities and healthcare.

Muscat told the UN, “Blockchain can provide solutions to health care systems where patients have real ownership of their medical records. Emissions trading systems can be taken to the next level. We can help verify that humanitarian assistance is reaching its intent destination. We can make sure that nobody is deprived of their legitimate property because of compromised data.”

Malta has been almost singularly driven to convert itself into the prime destination for any company in the crypto and blockchain ecosystems. The world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, has its headquarters there, as do several others. Binance has approximately 10 million customers and around $200 million in quarterly profit.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is investing heavily into the Malta market. He asserts, “After reviewing a proposal bill, we are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe. Binance is committed to lending our expertise to help shape a healthy regulatory framework as well as providing funds for other blockchain start-ups to grow the industry further in Malta.”

In addition to Binance, the OKEx is headquartered there, as are Neufund, Tron and Oroundo, among others.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Malta to introduce crypto laws in November

While many countries are still deciding how to introduce laws to the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces, Malta is already set to move forward. The country has announced that it will implement a range of laws this year to cover digital assets. Given Malta’s desire to be seen as the global crypto hub, it’s not too surprising that they are pushing forward faster than almost everyone else.

The country has established a range of statutes, included in the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) and the Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS), which are designed to offer a detailed framework for the crypto industry. Those statutes have already been ratified and will become effective as of November 1.

The VFA establishes guidelines and policies for initial coin offerings (ICO), including the obligation to include a complete financial history behind any project. The ITAS creates an in-depth foundation for regulations of both cryptocurrency and the blockchain. It specifies that it will over “innovative technology arrangements and innovative technology services,” as well as the issuance of certificates to technology providers.

The bills were initially approved by Malta’s government last July, making the Mediterranean island nation one of the first in the world to introduce specific legislation for the cryptocurrency industry. The move should also help the industry flourish more on the island, as regulations have the potential to garner much more support from mainstream investors.

What kind of impact the legislation has on the country’s crypto status could be seen soon after the laws become active. On November 1-2, Malta will host the Malta Blockchain Summit (MBS), a meeting of a number of cryptocurrency and blockchain experts from around the world.

Eman Pulis, the CEO of the MBS, said, “We’re delighted that the timing coincides so perfectly. We’ve always said that we’re here to support the conscious efforts being made at the national level to make Malta the primary jurisdiction for blockchain and [distributed ledger technology]. We’re hoping that the Malta Blockchain Summit will serve as a showcase for the ecosystem, and will justify the efforts made by the Maltese government on the legislative front.”

Malta is already home to a large number of crypto and blockchain industry players. BitBay and Binance are both headquartered there and the OKEx exchange has launched a partnership with the country to introduce a crypto exchange. Malta has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Binance to launch the Blockchain Charity Foundation, an organization that will create blockchain-powered solutions for local and regional issues.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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