The financial markets watchdog in Malta, Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), has refuted media reports and other rumors going around that Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by traded value, is located in the country.
The regulator further states that Binance, originally founded in China, has never been granted the required authorization to offer financial services in or from Malta and is therefore not supervised by the MFSA.
The authority has previously warned many crypto firms against falsely advertising unregulated products as being supervised in Malta. The watchdog added that these financial promotions were unlikely to provide consumers with the clarity required by its rules and could leave them unable to understand whether the promoted products or services were beyond its remit.
The regulatory notice further reads that the watchdog is investigating “if Binance has any activities in Malta which may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight.”
Additionally, it said certain activities of Binance fall under the country’s Virtual Financial Assets Act, which provides a set of rules for those operating a cryptocurrency-related business.
No smoke without fire
In turn, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has come out to assure its users that all claims about being based in Malta or opening offices there were completely untrue, which implicitly means that MFSA’s warning makes no sense.
Speaking via an update on Twitter, CZ said, “there is a mix of truth, FUD & misconception. [Binance] is not headquartered or operated in Malta. This is old news & has always been the case, hence there is quite a bit of FUD turning this into a breaking story. The community’s comments show that understanding.”
Binance has a number of regulated entities around the world, either operated by our partners or by https://t.co/9rMMAmc1G9 directly. We work closely with regulators and comply with the rules in the places where we operate.
— CZ Binance 🔶🔶🔶 (@cz_binance) February 21, 2020
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Binance has reportedly planned to open an office in Malta since 2018 when it had been running into legal trouble in Asia, including in Hong Kong and Japan, where it primarily operated.
Zhao Changpeng confirmed the news at this time, but he never provided a timeline for when the launch in Malta will take place. Also, in 2018, Binance revealed plans to launch a digital exchange specifically for security token trading in partnership with the Malta Stock Exchange.
Binance already moved its offices to Japan after the regulatory crackdowns in China against cryptocurrency businesses, but it wasn’t welcomed there, though.
The Mediterranean island has been already one of the most desirable locations to set up shop in the blockchain space. The European Union’s tiniest member has earned the name “Blockchain Island,” with several top crypto exchanges have made Malta a central hub of their operations.
The financial regulator MFSA said earlier this year it has received ‘Letters of Intent’ from 34 prospective digital assets providers, of which are 21 crypto exchanges seeking authorization in Malta.
Until October 31, these crypto providers had been operating under the transitory provisions set out in the country’s Virtual Financial Assets Act, which provides a set of rules for those operating a cryptocurrency-related business. Those wishing to continue providing their services in the rising crypto hub, following the expiry of the transitory period, are now required to apply for authorization with the MFSA.
With significant media attention being drawn towards the fledgling crypto-asset industry, the act also outlines stringent requirements for other service providers, including brokerages, portfolio managers, custodians, wallet providers, and investment advisors.