Malta’s Finance and Employment Minister Clyde Caruana has announced that the country’s plan to become a “blockchain island” has been faltering as local banks are unwilling to partner with innovative companies.
Speaking to local media company Lovin Malta, Caruana noted that few local businesses were able to attract banking partners and claimed, “Traditional banks wrote off blockchain in their early stages.”
“The banks have to be convinced that this can really happen. If there are no banks on board it will be very difficult. “
Stressing the need to invest in building the skills needed locally to support a thriving blockchain sector, Caruana argued, “There’s always the potential [to be a blockchain island] But if we want to do it, there has to be more work. ”
What Caruana describes as “skepticism towards private customers” affects not only the blockchain but other emerging industries like the island’s plan to support medical cannabis. In addition to the banks’ apparent disinterest, the minister stressed that the lack of local skills was hampering the growth of new industries in Malta:
“It’s not just about whether the industries are new or old, but rather about the question of skills. [If] Investors can’t find what they need, they may think twice. If we are to keep attracting investment to Malta, we need to make sure we have the skills. “
The Maltese Parliament passed blockchain-friendly regulations in 2018 to establish itself as a global hub for crypto and DLT. Offices of the world’s largest volume exchanges, Binance and OKEx, were quickly set up on the island.
However, the resignation of former Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in February 2020 led to revelations that the Maltese financial services authority had not issued a license to a single crypto firm.
While the new Maltese government has publicly reiterated its commitment to establishing Malta as a global crypto hub, progress remains slow – although the debit card provider and exchange platform Crypto.com became the first to receive a license from Malta’s local financial regulator on November 24th.