Category: Regulation

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A brief overview of Malta’s Budget 2019 

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Malta, Regulation, Artificial Intelligence, Know Your Customer, Anti Money Laundering, DLT, Budget

A brief overview of Malta’s Budget 2019

The Maltese Budget for 2019 is set to be announced on Monday 22nd of October, but what can we expect? Following the 2018 budget, 79% of the measures introduced within it were fulfilled during 2018, bringing to over 1,250 implemented measures over the last five years in total.

Entitled “Fostering a Quality Culture”, the Pre-Budget 2019 Document has given us some key points that we are expecting to be addressed in Monday’s reading.

Infrastructure

Investing in the country’s infrastructure, including public transport is expected to be a priority for the government, directly referencing the authority’s pledge to upgrade the national infrastructure over the next seven years. Other means of alternative transport are also expected to be announced as well as conceptual designs for the Malta-Gozo tunnel. Other areas expected to receive additional investment include maritime, aviation, and the digitization of The Lands Authority. The well-developed infrastructure can boost the real-estate growth and attract more foreign entrepreneurs and businessmen to the island on a permanent basis.

Regulatory Authorities

Following the implementation of the 4th AML Directive, the government is expected to announce further dedication towards addressing fiscal evasion as well as giving the Malta Customs greater investment towards non-invasive tools. The report also mentioned work that needs to be done at the stock exchange and the Malta Development Bank which focuses on SMEs and infrastructure projects supporting regional development.

New frameworks to be introduced will limit unnecessary expenditure, reduce inefficiencies, and create the Public Sector Performance and Evaluation Directorate. An extensive training programme, financed partially by the Structural Reform Support Programme, will improve human resources capacity. However, the competition on the labour market is not likely to decline due to the foreign companies entering the market with their employees on board.

Social Matters

The document addresses issues around housing and distribution of income and suggests that issues such as minimum wage, pensions, and tax refunds will be addressed.

The Environment

Waste management will be consolidated at Magħtab to provide a “national waste management nucleus” and to avoid unnecessary movement of vehicles. The government is expected to focus on a greener economy by announcing initiatives that will reduce the amount of waste and single-use plastic. Further work is expected on the Malta strategy to transition to a low-carbon economy.

The document also makes reference to conserving natural assets and taking necessary action, as well as simplifying the legal framework for agricultural operators, and reforming open vegetable markets. The government is also expected to continue its efforts to promote animal welfare, the sustainability of fish stocks, and the competitiveness of fishermen.

Let us hope that the solid part of the budget is dedicated to environmental improvement and conservation needs because the rapid development of the infrastructure is able to shake the balance between nature and technology.

Energy and Water

Water Services Corporation will continue to expand its distribution of new water as well as upgrading several reverse osmosis plants. The money will be invested in identifying significant flood risk areas and improving them, both across Malta and Gozo. Attention will also be given to decarbonising of the energy system and introducing further incentives to invest in renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency awareness.

Digital Innovation

A new legislation regarding online gaming is expected to be enforced, including new niches such as fantasy sports.

Blockchain is also expected to have a significant investment, as well as artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things – all of which will be given significant support over the coming years.

Fintech and Regtech will be further developed as well as Islamic finance, and the MFSA will adopt a more modern structure making it more proactive. The international companies are waiting for the three regulatory acts to come into force to consider Malta as their new base.

Sustainability

Malta Enterprise will continue to support businesses by reducing costs and encouraging investment in research and development. Intellectual Property services will be restructured and a new trademark act will be created as well.

Malta Industrial Parks (MIP) will integrate business parks to accommodate clusters of industries in the same location whilst considering vertical or horizontal expansion. MIP will also consider private-public partnerships and a comprehensive master plan for the Luqa area.

Furthermore, student visas will be simplified for non-EU Students and the Malta Residency and Visa Programme will suggest changes to the law to make it more attractive, as well as exploring a visa action plan for foreign workers.

 

If you would like to know more about Malta’s budget plan this year and its influence on your industry, drop us a line by sending us an email on [email protected]

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A Half Year Report on virtual currencies in 2018

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Regulatory, ICOs, Malta, ICO Legal Service, Law, The Blockchain Island, DLT Regulation, Smart Contracts, E&S Group, Technology, Trading, Cryptocurrency Exchange, Tokenomics, Regulation, Tokens, Binance, Utility Tokens, Security Tokens, DLT

A Half Year Report on virtual currencies in 2018

2018 has been an interesting year for crypto with colossal crashes, much-needed market adjustments, and of course, the emergence of a large number of new tokens and cryptocurrencies. Along with significant advances in regulation and legal frameworks that seek to understand, support, and protect those stakeholders operating within this new industry, there is no doubt that the rest of 2018 is going to be just as, if not more exciting as the previous six months.

Mid-January Market Crash

If you were holding Bitcoin in December 2017, you probably couldn’t believe your luck. As the value of a single Bitcoin headed towards $20k, a mad rush to invest ensued and predictions on where the price may head reached stratospheric new heights. Then on January 16th 2018, Bitcoin investors woke up to a nasty shock. The value of their coins had dropped by 15% and this news had a knock-on effect on the value of all other altcoins, causing a huge slump in the value of the market. The excitement and hype that had surrounded cryptocurrencies just a few days before, disappeared just like the profits of those who invested in it.

As prices continued to fall, investors started to panic. They started selling their coins in an effort to nip their losses in the bud and the moniker “Black Tuesday” was coined. Some crypto-coins saw losses of up to 40% and it seemed like many naysayers predictions were coming true and that the bubble had finally burst. Some voices remained steadfastly optimistic however and maintained that price slumps were common in all markets, not just the crypto one. After such an exponential increase in value, it was naturally expected that the market would correct itself because after every meteoric rise comes to a reverse-swing of the pendulum that needs to be ridden out – January was exactly that. As prices are now more stable it is hoped that they will increase at a steady rate, signalling a new era of market stability and maturity.

TRON Makes a Name for Itself

Since January of this year, TRON has experienced a steady increase in value. Despite a few issues, mainly caused by the crypto price-crash, it seemed to have found its niche which suggests a bright future for both the platform and its cryptocurrency.

TRON is a decentralised, blockchain-based, protocol project that functions as a content distribution platform for the digital entertainment industry. Whilst the platform itself is yet to go live the TRX coin is gaining significant traction.

Created by Justin Sun in 2017, the concept behind it is to establish a global network of free entertainment content which allows creators to publish, store and distribute their own content without the need for an intermediary. Whilst its value per coin was only $0.30 in January, it is expected to hit $1 by the end of 2018.

Its main selling point is that it is not just another cryptocurrency. It has a platform that solves a problem and offers functionality to a range of users and publishers. Over the last year, TRON has increased in value by 1.39% making it one of the top crypto coins in terms of growth, making it one to keep your eye on as we progress through 2018.

The Unexpected Rise of Litecoin

Many have dismissed Litecoin as “the poor man’s Bitcoin” but despite this, its popularity has increased drastically over the past few months. It was initially launched via an open-source client on GitHub in 2011, a sort of spin-off of the original Bitcoin Core client, but it offered much lower block generation times, a higher number of coins, a modified GUI, and a different hashing algorithm.

In 2013 it experienced a big surge in value and by May 2017 it had secured a spot as one of the Top 5 global cryptocurrencies in terms of its market cap. Now accepted by a wide range of online retailers, its adoption is increasing and many are seeing it as a better alternative to the rather bloated and over-inflated Bitcoin.

12 and even 6 months ago, blockchain was not something that was widely understood but as we progress to the end of 2018, it is expected that we will see a dramatic uptake of blockchain integration across a diverse range of sectors. Following in the footsteps of IBM, Microsoft, and Maersk, even smaller SMEs are likely to be interested in harnessing its potential.

Litecoin is predicted to peak at a value of over $600 per coin by the end of 2018 and there is no doubt that it has huge potential. Negating many of the issues that are faced by Bitcoin users, it presents a practical, simplified and completely viable alternative to the crypto-giant.

Malta Takes the Lead in Industry Regulation

In the last 12 months, it has seen cryptocurrency, blockchain and ICOs negate a minefield of regulatory and legal issues. Problems around its classification, AML and KYC regulations, and the reluctance of many banking institutions to support the burgeoning technology has resulted in many setbacks for the crypto world but that is all set to change.

The island of Malta has long been a hub for digital technologies and it is well known for its iGaming, Finserv and Fintech industries that when combined, account for around half of the country`s GDP. Then, in March 2018 the Government announced the drafting of three new bills that would seek to provide legal and regulatory clarification on DLT, crypto, and ICOs. These bills are the Virtual Financial Assets Bill which would provide a regulatory framework for ICOs and virtual currencies, the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Bill and the Technology Arrangements and Services Bill which will oversee companies that operate within the market, as well as providing a much-needed guidance and clarification.

This makes Malta the first jurisdiction in the EU, and the world to create a comprehensive legal framework that not only protects all stakeholders including operators and investors, but also supports the growth and development of the industry. By ensuring explicit legal clarification as well as adherence to AML and KYC regulations. This means that the industry will receive a much-needed confidence boost and will help to increase the  level of public trust in this new market sector.

Binance Relocates to Malta

As a result of Malta’s decision to support cryptocurrencies and related industries, an exciting announcement came just a few days later. Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world and commands 10% of the global trading volume as well as having a market capitalistion of $1.3billion at the time of writing. Its founder Changpeng Zhao started Binance in July 2017 and in just a couple of short months, it has grown to be the market leader.

Following the introduction of restrictive laws in Japan and China regarding cryptocurrencies and exchanges, Binance was on the look out for a more welcoming and flexible home. On March 23rd, Binance announced their move to Malta and the crypto community rejoiced. Such a vote of confidence is a big deal for the small EU country and it is expected that such a move will encourage many other companies and startups to follow suit.

The Blockchain Boom

This time last year, most people had heard of the blockchain but only in the context of it being intrinsically linked to Bitcoin. Now, the technology has broken away from just monetary uses and has earned a lot of attention for its potential. In the last few months, more and more use cases have come to prominence at blockchain has found uses in industries such as logistics, healthcare, politics, real estate, and even crypto-powered beer vending machines. It has also been tipped to completely revolutionize the way we vote, as well as provide microloans to SMEs in developing countries and to solve the energy crisis in third world countries.

 

E&S Group is a leading corporate & law firm offering various services with regards to ICOs. Feel free to contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out how E&S can help you in ‘making things happen’.

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Blockchain island to welcome Waves

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Malta, The Blockchain Island, DLT Regulation, E&S Group, Regulation, Waves

Blockchain Island to Welcome Waves

Waves, a popular decentralized blockchain application, is currently in talks to relocate all or some of its operations to the island of Malta.

This week CEO of Waves, Sasha Ivanov met with the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat to discuss the accreditation required to operate within the country. Cooperation in terms of land registry, voting, healthcare and other sectors, as well as various proposals to use Waves as a platform for the tokenisation of financial instruments, was also discussed.

In a statement released by Waves, the meeting was described as “encouraging”. The statement added:

“We are interested in this accreditation and are ready to start working with Malta’s legal experts to bring our ready-to-use blockchain solutions here.”

Junior Finance Minister, Silvio Schembri added that there was a chance that the Maltese government would reach an agreement with the Russian company in the coming weeks. Good for Waves, the Russian state-owned manufacturing conglomerate Rostec has agreed to work with Waves on the development and implementation of the Waves platform for the management of data with $2 million being invested into the project.

This week, Waves also announced the launch of a new protocol that would allow smart contracts to run over the Waves main-net.

Over the last few months, Malta has seen an incredible influx of big-name cryptocurrency related businesses relocation to Malta. Binance, OKEx, BitBay, and ZB.com have all announced either a full relocation or the opening of operations in the country, now dubbed “blockchain island”.

This current influx of blockchain and crypto related businesses is due to the three acts that are to come into force on the 1st of November 2018 that will seek to regulate and define the burgeoning industry. These new laws will place Malta at the forefront of global regulation for cryptocurrency and related industries, making it something of a pioneer.

If you own or think of starting a blockchain-based business, then Malta should be at the top of your list when it comes to choosing a jurisdiction. To find out more about setting up a business in Malta, and all of the legal and regulatory requirements, please contact a member of our team here. E&S Group is perfectly positioned to help with setting up companies and business structures, providing fiscal and legal advice. Contact us on [email protected]

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Forbes quotes Muscat’s Bitcoin Prediction

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Malta, The Blockchain Island, DLT Regulation, E&S Group, Bitcoin, Tokenomics, Regulation

Forbes quotes Muscat’s Bitcoin Prediction

The Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat has recently gained the fame as one of the most often quoted politicians in the European space due to his statements on the development of the digital industry and its regulation.   He has already announced his positive attitude towards bitcoin and blockchain from the point of their ability to eliminate third party service providers, giving users more freedom over information and money.

Forbes writes about the “Massive Bitcoin Prediction” according to the statement of Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in an address to the United Nations General Assembly, where he has expressed his belief that blockchain technology is the tool that will help digital currencies “inevitably” gain mass adoption and become the future of money.

“I passionately believe technology revolutionizes and improves systems,” said Muscat. “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.”

“Emissions trading systems can be taken to the next level. We can help verify that humanitarian assistance is reaching its intended destination. We can make sure that nobody is deprived of their legitimate property because of compromised data.”

E&S has already written about the progressive attitude of the Maltese authorities towards blockchain and the interpreters operating within this space, coming up with the regulation on the 1st of November.

Operating in Malta, E&S Group adheres to the Maltese laws with regards to ICOs, cryptocurrency exchanges and tokenomics. If you require further information contact us by sending an email on [email protected]. We make things happen!

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The Chinese paradox: virtual currencies vs ledger technologies

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Law, Bitcoin, Regulation

The Chinese paradox: virtual currencies vs ledger technologies

The Chinese government has increased its pressure on those engaging with cryptocurrency related activity within the country.

Whilst it is clear that Beijing supports blockchain, the technology that underpins crypto, it is also trying to limit speculation in digital currencies, almost one year since they banned ICOs.

Blockchain technology works by creating a permanent and secure record of transactions between two individuals. By facilitating this direct link between parties, it is possible to eliminate the need for third-party intermediaries such as banks. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency that used blockchain technology, and since then hundreds of other crypto coins have been launched into the market. Last year, prices of Bitcoin reached record highs as investors speculated that blockchain was set to change the world as the internet did. Whilst it is being used around the world by companies, individuals, and governments, it is still yet to fully prove itself on a larger scale.

Banned the sale of cryptocurrencies

China was once the world leader when it came to Bitcoin trading and it is still responsible for the majority of the world’s BTC mining output. But, due to increased regulatory scrutiny as well as the value of Bitcoin climbing quickly, the country’s bank and other financial authorities banned the sales of new cryptocurrencies through ICOs as well as Bitcoin-Yuan trading.

Around the same time, investors in Japan, South Korea, and the US became extremely interested Bitcoin which resulted in an all-time high value of $19,000 by the end of December. Then on August 24th 2018, five Chinese government bodies; People’s Bank of China, the Banking Regulatory Commission, the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Market Regulation published a warning about the risks of fundraising via ICOs.

Prohibition of cryptocurrency transactions

Then, tech giant Tencent announced that they would prohibit any cryptocurrency related transactions made through WeChat pay as well as blocking some accounts associated with ICOs and crypto trading. Also in August, the business district of Beijing, the Chaoyang District placed a ban on all hotels, offices, and shopping areas holding any cryptocurrency related events. A special economic development zone in Guangzhou swiftly followed suit.

Whilst it is clear that the Chinese government wants to maintain a level of financial stability and regulation, this has not stopped several local governments investing heavily in blockchain projects. It seems that whilst blockchain is actively encouraging, cryptocurrency will remain outlawed.

 

Interested in ICOs Legislation in Malta? Contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out more.

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MFSA organised a seminar titled: Due Diligence and Cybersecurity in Relation to DLT

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Regulatory, Malta, The Blockchain Island, DLT Regulation, Smart Contracts, Technology, Trading, Regulation, Artificial Intelligence, Tokens, Conference, MFSA, DLT, Privacy

MFSA organised a seminar titled: Due Diligence and Cybersecurity in Relation to DLT

 

Last Tuesday, 11th September, MFSA organised a day seminar for those who work in the field of DLT and Fintech which took place at Corinthia Palace Attard. The seminar titled ‘Due Diligence and Cybersecurity in Relation to DLT’, discussed many challenging issues that the DLT is facing. Many topics were discussed during this seminar, with a particular focus on cybersecurity, hacking and fraud.

E&S Group was represented by its team who gained a better insight into this ever-growing space.

Speakers from around the world, (most notably coming from France, Germany, England and the USA), attended the seminar. They spoke about their concern about hackers’ attacks which are made every day, and also covering the topic of frauds. In fact, in the past few years, many banks have experienced some kind of attack, with the consequence of losing their customers’ money. As a result, this has made the DLT space to look like a high-risk sector. However, everyone working in a network is subjected to an attack. The speakers all agreed that the blockchain technology needs to implement some sort of due diligence on the platform, preventing any hacks and tarnishing the sector further.

Moreover, it was discussed that crypto investors should conduct a due diligence procedure, helping banks and exchanges to identify who is fraudulent or not. Those institutions that do not follow any due diligence procedures are subjected to hackers accessing customers’ wallets, thus resulting in the bankruptcy of the company. In order to prevent such theft in the sector, cryptographers are creating complex algorithms to prevent such wrongdoings. This will help maintain the system to stay safe in combination with constant checks done to make sure no access is given to intruders. Mrs Maria Vello from Cyber Defence Alliance pointed out that that hackers are not anonymous and many criminals who stole money from banks have been caught by police.

VFA Agents in DLT

The event also highlighted the importance of VFA Agents. Accountants, auditors and lawyers who are applying to become a licenced VFA Agents have to go through a rigorous procedure, including, an exam, an interview and the applicable due diligence. The MFSA stated that this procedure is important to eliminate any “bad practises” within the industry. Moreover, the licenced VFA Agents need to conduct the Financial instrument test on their clients, thus presenting all the required information, one of which being the white paper, to the authority.

Malta has become the leading jurisdiction to have a friendly approach on DLT sector. At E&S Group we have helped over 80 ICOs to launch their project in Malta. If you would like to join these companies but require further advice, please contact us at [email protected] or by telephone on +356 2010 3020. We make things happen!

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What is the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive?

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Regulatory, European Commission, European Parliament, Regulation

What is the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive?

On the 19th of June 2018, the European Commission published the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) in the Official Journal of the European Union. This directive not only provides important updates and improvements to the 4AMLD but it also makes provisions for businesses that are operating within the cryptocurrency sphere.

When the previous Directive was announced in 2015, Bitcoin and some other currencies existed but no one could yet predict how much they, and the blockchain technology that underpins them, would go on to change the world we lived in. Now, in 2018, even if you are not using cryptocurrencies yourself, the chances are that you are, or are about to come into contact with blockchain. With everyone from shipping lines to central banks has begun to adopt this technology. Significant changes were needed to ensure companies operating both within the sector, and the EU is in full compliance with AML requirements.

The 5AMLD is not a ‘free-standing’ law, but rather it provides amendments to the previous 4AMLD, and it was being created at a time that most member states were still implementing the previous one. This was due to the fact that the industry moved at an incredible rate and the EU found itself in a situation where within a few months, the previous legislation had become outdated.

The most important elements of the 5AMLD pertain to the regulation of virtual currencies, information on beneficial owners, the use of prepaid cards, the powers of financial intelligence units, and due diligence for high-risk jurisdictions.

Virtual Currencies

The 5AMLD increases the scope of the EU regulatory perimeter in terms of AML/CFT controls and it makes specific reference to cryptocurrency exchanges as well as those that provide custodian wallet services. Under the new rules, both service providers are now “obliged entities” and are therefore subject to the requirements of the AMLD legislation.

The 5AMLD also requires all Member States to enforce mandatory registration of such providers and to report any suspicious activity that occurs on their platforms. This is designed to stop organised criminal activity from exploiting the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Beneficial Owners

The 5AMLD makes some very important changes to the EU regulations on both recording and disclosing the beneficial ownership of entities such as trusts and companies. Now, member states will be expected to impose sanctions and restrictions on any company that breaches the basic obligation of holding adequate and up-to-date information who is the beneficial owner.

The Directive also expands on the ability to access information pertaining to beneficial ownership- in the case of a corporate entity, for example, any member of the public is now entitled to the unrestricted information. In the case of trusts, regulators, FIUs and regular entities, as well as any natural or legal person with a demonstrable and legitimate interest, is able to access such information upon request. The EU stipulates that this access should not be limited to cases of pending litigation, but rather to those who facilitate preventative work in AML/CFT, as well as NGOs and investigative journalists.

All information on beneficial ownership is to be held on a central registry and should be available both locally and on a cross-border basis within the EU. All member state registers will be connected via the ‘European Central Platform’ which will be established under the Company Law Directive.

Financial Intelligence Units

Under the new Directive, FIUs will have total access to information provided by any obliged entity including exchanges and wallet providers. Furthermore, the 5AMLD also provides for a situation where information can be obtained by the FIU without any prior report needing to have been made.

Enhanced Due Diligence for High-Risk Countries

The 5AMLD imposes much tougher due diligence criteria on business relationships and transactions that involve high-risk jurisdictions. These requirements include acquiring additional information on the customer as well as the beneficial owner, the sources of funds and wealth, reasons for executing the transaction, and the necessity to have senior management approval to continue the relationship. The Directive also suggests that member states should impose restrictions on transactions or relationships with institutions from high-risk jurisdictions and it may require EU Banks to terminate correspondent banking relationships with institutions that are deemed as operating in a high-risk jurisdiction.

 

To learn more about ICO Legal Services in Malta please follow this link.

Contact us directly on +356 20103020 or by email at [email protected] to find out more.

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Malta and the FATF- fighting money laundering and terrorism financing

Categories iGaming, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Regulatory, Malta, Technology, Trading, Regulation, Exchanges, DLT

Malta and the FATF- fighting money laundering and terrorism financing

Over the last decade, the island of Malta has firmly established itself as a leading jurisdiction for various sectors such as iGaming, financial services, and now, cryptocurrency and blockchain. This is due in part to its stringent approach to issues surrounding anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism procedures, including its adherence to the EU 4th Anti Money Laundering Directive, as well as being an active member of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF is an organisation that is tasked with setting the global standards for AML/CTF as well as acting as a guardian of the financial system in terms of financial crime and illicit activities. Every four months, they release a list of non-reputable jurisdictions which are defined as those that have serious deficiencies in their AML/CFT legislation, or who are not cooperative. This list of so-called ‘rogue states’ is meant to guide cooperative countries when it comes to who they should do business with, and who requires more enhanced levels of due diligence and other verification processes.

The most recent list, published in July, includes Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen. Deemed as no-reputable jurisdictions, entities are advised to exercise caution when handling financial businesses with them. Notably, most countries on the list are in the grip of some kind of conflict so it could be that the governmental infrastructure is not available to enforce such regulations in an efficient manner, rather than them simply refusing to cooperate.

Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) uses each report as a guide to decide what kinds of businesses or individuals should be able to conduct financial businesses within the country. Malta is also an active member of the intergovernmental FTAF as well as adhering to the EU 4AMLD, meaning it takes a strict approach to due diligence on companies and obliged entities operating in the country.

E&S Group works with a wide range of clientele from every corner of the world, and as such, we undertake all necessary due diligence, enhanced due diligence, and know your customer processes as a standard. We are also able to advise our customers on creating the proper, compliance procedures to ensure that their business and the people that they do business with are in line with national and international AML/CFT requirements. Contact us today at +356 2010 3020 or by email on [email protected]

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How the EU 5th AML Directive will impact the world of digital currencies

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Regulatory, European Commission, E&S Group, Technology, Regulation, Tokens, Wallet

How the EU 5th AML Directive will impact the world of digital currencies

On the 26th of April 2018, the European Parliament announced the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) which would provide significant amendments and updates to the 4AMLD as well as tackling the growing virtual currency sector. Member States of the European Union have until 2020 to transpose the directive into national law and to make sure that all businesses operating within their jurisdictions are in full compliance.

Providing much-needed clarity

As well as bringing European AML regulations in line with developments in the cryptocurrency sector, the Directive seeks to provide clarity to virtual currency businesses on the AML and CTF obligations that they are required to adhere to.

Bolstering the industry’s reputation

There is no doubt that these regulations are much needed. Many cryptocurrency cynics state the fact that crypto can be and is used for illicit activities as a reason why they do not wish to get involved with them. Many investors and companies are cautious to associate their brand with something that has ties to drugs, money laundering and financing terrorism. Whilst in a reality, the actual number of illicit transactions is much lower and less than people think, regulations like 5AMLD provide a much-needed confidence boost.

The 5AMLD fills a regulatory void that has previously allowed certain rogue entities allow users to exchange crypto for fiat without undertaking any, or little KYC or due diligence. These platforms then became a paradise for virtual currencies gained from dark market places, fraud, ransomware, and other illegal activities.

Two types of crypto-business

The new Directive pertains to two types of cryptocurrency business; providers that are engaged in exchange services between virtual currencies and virtual currencies (exchanges) and those that provide custodian wallet services where clients private keys are stored as a part of the service.

Under the new rules, both of these entities become ‘obliged entities’ and are therefore obliged to comply with the AML/CTF legislation, much in the same way that banks and other financial institutions are. They will also be required to implement stringent issues to counter money laundering and terrorist financing included KYC and strict due diligence as well as transaction monitoring. All entities will also be obliged to keep and maintain extensive records and to report all suspicious transactions immediately to the competent authority.

Pan-European standardisation

Most cryptocurrency businesses that operate within the EU have already implemented such procedures but the 5AMLD seeks to standardise it and ensure that it becomes law within each jurisdiction so that bad actors are prevented from continuing their operations. It is also hoped that the introduction of the 5AMLD will seek to create a European ecosystem that other states can use as a guide when it comes to implementing their own AML procedures.

If you operate or are planning to operate a cryptocurrency business then E&S Group can assist you in being compliant with all current, and imminent regulations. We can provide legal, fiscal, and compliance related advice to help you ensure that you are in adherence to all applicable regulations both locally, and at EU level. For enquires call on +356 2010 3020 or by email on [email protected]

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Virtual Currencies are increasing in value

Categories Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICOs, Smart Contracts, Cryptocurrency Exchange, Payments, Bitcoin, Regulation, Ethereum, Ripple, Market, Market Cap

Virtual Currencies are increasing in value

For the first time in two months, the value of Bitcoin has exceeded $8200 and it seems that slowly but surely the value of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency is regaining some of the strength that it had before the spectacular crash of January 2018.

In July, the value spiked rather suddenly and it value started to creep towards the price it reached two months ago at $7502. But what is causing its price to grow? Here are five reasons why?

Facebook and Google relax their rules

When news broke that both Google and Facebook had relaxed their rules around advertising cryptocurrencies and related products on their platforms. Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world is now allowed to advertise its services on Facebook and Google has now listed the top cryptocurrencies in its exchange rate converted. This newly founded web visibility and a significant vote of confidence from the world’s largest tech giants has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the value of BTC.

The possibility of a BTC ETF

Another big vote of confidence for BTC was the announcement from the Chicago Board Options Exchange that they had sought approval for a Bitcoin ETF. This request from one of the most well-known exchanges comes at the same time as a number of similar requests from other leading big names. Whether or not the application will be approved, remains to be seen but in the meantime, this news is believed to have helped create the surge in value that we are seeing today.

Approval from big institutions

Some of the world’s leading banks such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have started showing more and more interest in cryptocurrencies. At one time, leading figures in the industry were quick to criticise and dismiss the technology, but it appears that the tides have turned. The fact that such prominent names have shown interest in investing in and utilising the technology has been a big boost for the industry as a whole.

Regulatory changes

Following in the footsteps of Malta that recently introduced three new Acts that would support the growth and development of cryptocurrencies, ICOs and blockchain technology, more and more jurisdictions are considering changing their approach. The market has suffered from a lack of regulation or unclear laws which has lead to confusion, abuse, and crippling of cryptocurrencies value. Now the US Chamber of Commerce along with the SEC and CFTC are working on creating a better regulatory environment, crypto is set to thrive.

It’s summer!

The price of BTC seems to surge every summer and 2018 is no exception. Whilst the leap of 2017 was the largest so far, before that we saw considerable upswings during the summer season. So far, the level of growth in 2018 pales in comparison to previous years, we still have August to go and considering points 1-4, we could be in for a pleasant surprise.

If you have invested in Bitcoin or are considering doing so, contact one of our team today to ensure that you are making the best out of your investment and that you are in compliance with all applicable fiscal regulations.

 

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