The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has announced that it is planning on opening an office in the warmer climes of Malta.
Founded last year in Hong Kong by Changpeng Zhao, the exchange moved its operations to Japan in response to China’s ban on crypto activities last September. Now, it looks as though the exchange will be relocating again given the recent crack down with Japanese authorities.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Zhao said that Binance is close to securing a deal with banks on the Southern European island country, where it will provide a ‘fiat-to-crypto exchange,’ adding:
We are very confident we can announce a banking partnership there soon. Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech.
News of Binance’s planned move to Malta comes after the exchange received a warning from Japan’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), regarding its lack of an operating license within the country. The cryptocurrency has several staff members in Japan and has been reported as expanding without official permission. Following the news yesterday, Zhao took to Twitter to reassure investors that there was no conflict between Binance and the FSA.
Zhao has said that the company remains in discussions with authorities; however, it’s not known what they outcome will be. In recent months, the FSA has been clamping down on cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan following the January hack at Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck, resulting in the theft of $530 million worth of NEM. As a result, the agency has since suspended two crypto exchanges due to a lack of proper security measures.
The planned move to Malta comes at a time when the country’s policy makers are ramping up efforts for it to become a leader among the digital assets sector. The Malta Independent reported last month that the government had launched a policy document that seeks to set up the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. The aim of it is to provide legal certainty for blockchain-based companies.
Since the announcement, Malta’s Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, Joseph Muscat, took to Twitter to give his view on the move, stating that ‘we aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies.’
Responding to Muscat’s tweet, one user expressed the view of others by stating: ‘Looks like Malta is thinking ahead unlike some other countries.’