BitStarz Exclusive Interview with Silvio Schembri

  • Malta recently passed three crypto friendly bills into law, making Malta a “Blockchain Island.”
  • “These bills address the challenges currently being faced by the industry, among them legal uncertainty and lack of clarity, providing a sound legal framework for these operators to operate without stifling innovation and giving the industry space to flourish,” says Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy, and Innovation Silvio Schembri in an exclusive interview with BitStarz.
  • These bills are the first step in a long and important process to begin legitimizing cryptocurrencies as legal tender throughout Europe and beyond.

At the beginning of July, Malta passed three crypto-friendly bills into law. This move has created a lot of excitement within the crypto sphere and has prompted many large players within the industry to relocate to Malta, joining BitStarz on the blockchain island. To get the lowdown on these new bills, we got in touch with the man behind the bills – Maltese politician Silvio Schembri.
Silvio is the Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy, and Innovation within the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. He is responsible for the implementation of Malta’s Blockchain Strategy, with the goal of making Malta a blockchain island.

A handful of private companies and individuals have been critical in developing these bills in partnership with the government, which private company or individual would you say has been the most helpful in the process of creating these bills?

The approach we took during the drafting of the bills was to engage actively with all stakeholders. Among the most important stakeholders were representatives from the blockchain industry. During the months prior to the public consultation document that we issued in February of this year, we met – both on a bilateral level and through written feedback – a large number of operators. For obvious reasons, we cannot mention specifics, but we can safely state that we listened and heard all those that came forward with views and ideas.

These bills have huge implications, what do you feel they mean for Malta?

With the help of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority we envision that Malta will become the leader of Innovative Technology Arrangements. These bills address the challenges currently being faced by the industry, among them legal uncertainty and lack of clarity, providing a sound legal framework for these operators to operate without stifling innovation and giving the industry space to flourish.

What do these three bills mean for companies operating in the Blockchain and crypto space, such as gaming companies and trading exchanges?

These bills create the first every technology regulator whereby it will certify innovative technology arrangements – for example. DLT platforms. Also, the MDIA Bill allows further technology arrangements to be regulated such as AI and IOT (Internet Of Things). This sends a message to the world that Malta is pro-technology and that we are looking ahead.

Do you believe that Blockchain industry in Malta could overtake the iGaming industry five years from now?

This industry is disruptive by definition. It’s still in the initial stages, but it has huge potential. Blockchain compliments the Financial Services industry very well – especially in terms of Fintech and Regtech – and the Gaming Industry with its innovation. We hope it will grow and – in the process – attract new skills and knowledge to our economy.

Who were the key backers of the bill to get it to a parliamentary vote?

We managed to obtain a political consensus on these bills. It gave us a strong message to the industry in Malta’s commitment in having a futureproof regulatory framework, which provides legal certainty.

Where do you see Malta in the next five years within the crypto world?

Our vision is to put Malta at the epicenter of the Blockchain industry, and not just the crypto world. It is to be noted that we are taking a very holistic approach and are the first jurisdiction in the world that is looking at the technological arrangements.

When will these three bills take effect?

The Acts will have different effective dates, but we are envisaging them to be fully operational by end of this year.

What are you most excited about with regards to this movement?

DLT is a disruptive technology and it’s changing our way of doing things. It’s changing the way businesses interact with each other and with consumers. It is changing the way we look at information and at digital assets. It has already changed the role of institutions in our worldwide. All of these aspects are very exciting.
These new bills will change the crypto industry and help to regulate it, making it safer for consumers and exchanges alike. Schembri – together with his arsenal of private advisors – are taking huge strides towards creating the first blockchain nation. Stay tuned to the BitStarz News more exclusive interviews with industry experts.

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