Companies involved in cryptocurrency should be incentivised to move to the island, according to a virtual currency advocacy group.

BitMalta, a group of professionals raising awareness on the technology, has submitted a list of proposals to Gaming Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri to facilitate its success in Malta.

One such proposal is to introduce tax incentives or subsidies for professionals working in the sector.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies which rely on an encryption system known as Blockchain to oversee transactions independent of a central bank – the most popular of which is Bitcoin.

Malta prepares for blockchain

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that Malta would be leading the race to embrace the payment system and set the standards for other countries to follow. Many raised concerns, however, including the Malta Financial Service Authority, which warned the currency was not a regulated digital instrument.

“Unlike traditional money, acceptance of payment in virtual currency depends entirely on the voluntary consent of the recipient. Furthermore, providers of services in relation to virtual currencies are currently neither regulated by law nor authorised by the MFSA,” the authority said.

In its proposals, BitMalta said the incentives could include widening the scope of the tax schemes for finance and gambling professionals to Blockchain coders and other Blockchain-oriented professionals.

The group also believes the government should urge financial and credit institutions to keep up a dialogue with Blockchain-related companies wishing to open a bank account on the island.

This, they said, would facilitate the process, subject to sufficient safeguards.

Other proposals include the issuance of monthly Blockchain updates in the form of a newsletter “to keep the momentum going”.

Maltese delegates should also be sent to prominent international Blockchain conferences to keep Malta at the forefront, the BitMalta proposals say.

Two months ago, the Times of Malta reported how Malta’s first Bitcoin ATM had been set up.

The machine, which has been installed outside a Sliema shop on Blanche Huber Street, allows users to buy Bitcoin and check their e-wallet balance using QR codes displayed on their smartphone.

The MFSA reacted to the news, warning the public that they were not protected when using virtual currencies as a means of payment.

BitMalta’s proposals also called for a set of guidelines to be published for anyone considering installing such an ATM and potential vetting to be considered.

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