Malta's Prime Minister Calls Cryptocurrencies 'Inevitable Future of Money'

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Malta's Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, said that he believes cryptocurrencies are "the inevitable future of money."

Although Malta (or, "The Republic of Malta", to give it its official name) is a small island nation in the European Union and traditionally best known to Europeans as a nice place for a relaxing beach holiday, lately, it has been making a name for itself as a crypto-friendly place, and it seems to be working hard to firmly establish itself as a major capital in the cryptocurrency world.

On 23 March 2018, Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange (by traded value), which was founded last year in China and currently headquartered in Hong Kong, shocked the crypto world when it announced that it was planning to move to Malta due to Malta's "existing pro-blockchain legislation" and "the stability that it offers financial technology companies through its regulatory framework."

Apparently, Binance founder and CEO, Zhao Changpeng, appreciated the vision of the country's leadership and its plans for a clear and healthy regulatory framework: 

We were impressed by the logical, clear and forward thinking nature of Malta’s leadership. After reviewing a proposal bill, we are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies, and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe. Binance is committed to lending our expertise to help shape a healthy regulatory framework as well as providing funds for other blockchain start-ups to grow the industry further in Malta.

Zhao Changpeng, Binance CEO

An example of the kind of steps the Maltese government is taking in this area came on 16 February 2018, when The Malta Independent reported on plans for creation of a new agency called the Malta Digital Innovation Authority, the purpose of which (alongside other regulation) was to "provide legal certainty in the sphere of Blockchain technology and by extension cryptocurrencies."

Binance's announcement also noted that the government was "in the process of formalizing a ‘Virtual Currency Act’ that will pave the way for a first-of-its-kind auditing framework made specifically to regulate blockchain-driven investment operations such as token sales."

Upon hearing the news, Malta's Palimentary Secretary for the Digital Economy, Hon. Silvio Schembri, made these comments:

This is a clear vote of confidence in our country and the work being done in this sector, mainly by the latest policy launched to offer a regulatory framework of DLT operations... It is obvious that Malta has become a natural point of reference on the international sphere and companies such as Binance will continue to look into Malta to further expand their operations or establish a base.

Hon. Silvio Schembri

He added that:

Binance’s presence in Malta sustains our vision, that of making Malta ‘The Blockchain Island’.

Hon. Silvio Schembri

On the day of the announcement, Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, was also quick to welcome Binance:

 

The Binance CEO acknowledged this welcome and made his own invitation to other crypto businesses to move to Malta:

Two days after Binance's announcement, Justin Sun, founder of TRON (a blockchain-based operating system) and CEO of Tron Foundation, said on Twitter that TRON was also considering investing and operating in Malta:

Binance's vote of confidence in Malta must have also played a major part in the decision of another digital asset exchange, OKEx, which is based in Belize, to expand operations to Malta. On 12 April 2018, OKEx announced on their website that it was also confident of the approach taken by the Maltese government. It's CEO, Chris Lee, made the following comment:

We look forward to working with the Malta government as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values: the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem.

Chris Lee, OKEx CEO

According to Tim Byun, Chief Risk Officer and Head of Government Relations of OKEx:

Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry. More specifically, Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem.

Tim Byun, Chief Risk Officer of OKEx

Finally, it is worth noting that in November Malta will be hosting one of the largest blockchain events in Europe this year: Malta Blockchain Summit. This should bring even more attention to the "Blockchain Island".

ConsenSys Confirms 'Vast Expansion' of Blockchain Industry

The developers at ConsenSys, a Brooklyn, New York-based organization focused on Ethereum-related development, have published a blog post in which they revealed that the nascent blockchain ecosystem “continues to see vast expansion all over the world.”

According to ConsenSys’ management, the evolving distributed ledger technology (DLT) industry needs business development and project managers, UI/UX designers, software architects, and adequate capital allocation.

Large blockchain-focused enterprises and major DLT-based infrastructural projects have now been launched as the crypto industry continues to grow, ConsenSys’ blog post noted. Crypto startups have also “grown into formidable businesses” with “growing hiring needs”, the ConsenSys team revealed.

“Need for Thousands of Non-Tech Roles”

In order to help blockchain job seekers get started, the ConsenSys team has compiled a handy “knowledge checklist”, links to useful DLT-related information, “learning hubs”, and other pertinent resources.

Per the developers at ConsenSys: 

It’s not all cryptography and distributed systems, there’s a need for thousands of non-technical roles ranging from publicists to content creators, community managers and admin positions.

However, the majority of blockchain-related jobs require skilled developers and the need for experienced software architects “continues to be the area of most demand”, ConsenSys’ report confirmed.

LinkedIn: “33x Increase” in Demand for DLT Software Architects

Notably, blockchain developers topped the global list for job roles with the highest overall growth. This, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report which revealed that the demand for DLT software architects “grew 33x over the previous year.”

As detailed in LinkedIn’s market research report, fintech firms and other organizations currently looking for blockchain developers “range from small remote teams to VC-funded startups to industry leaders and tech giants.”

Established multinational IT and professional services firms such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft are all expanding their respective DLT-focused development teams. Meanwhile, smaller startups including the developers of the Marconi protocol are looking to enhance blockchain network security, privacy, and connectivity.

Blockchain Devs Are Making up to $175,000 per Year

As noted in ConsenSys’ blog, “advertised blockchain developer salaries — using aggregated data from CNBC, Janco Associates, and Burning Glass — range from $125,000 — $175,000.”

Meanwhile, AngelList data shows that salaries for tech jobs in the DLT industry “outweigh equivalent roles in non-blockchain organizations, highlighting the high demand for practical blockchain knowledge already.” Moreover, non-technical roles in the blockchain sector “also outrank similar roles in non-blockchain companies,” market data shows.