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Malta: The Jurisdiction Of Choice For Blockchain Businesses?

George Miller

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The Jurisdiction Of Choice For Blockchain Businesses?
Dr Joseph F. Borg, WH Partners - Photos credits: Alan Carville
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The below interview has been conducted by Jo Caruana (MaltaChamber.org.mt) – View original source here.

Dr Joseph F. Borg, an advocate and partner at WH Partners, talks through the history of Blockchain and highlights its potential path for the future.

There is an absolute buzz about cryptocurrencies at the moment, as well as whether to invest in them, or to put them down to a scam. Either way, the business world is fascinated.

One expert on the subject is Dr Joseph F. Borg, an advocate and partner at WH Partners, who heads the Blockchain Advisory and the Gaming and Gambling Advisory sections of the firm. On top of that, he is the Vice-President and Co-Founder of BitMalta, which is a non-profit organisation that promotes and stimulates discussion about Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Malta.

“Let’s begin by explaining what a cryptocurrency actually is,” Dr Borg says. “Essentially, it is a type of convertible virtual currency secured by cryptography that is built on top of the Blockchain – a type of distributed ledger technology which does away with the need for a third-party clearinghouse and central issuer. As a result of their underlying decentralised technology, cryptocurrencies have introduced much-needed competition in the digital payments industry and have the potential to contribute positively to citizens’ welfare and economic development, including in the financial sector. Some of the most popular touted benefits of cryptocurrencies are their ability to lower transaction and operational costs, to promote financial inclusion, to enhance the resilience and speed of payment systems, and to increase users’ security and privacy, among others.”

Nevertheless, the idea presented by cryptocurrencies – the first of which was Bitcoin – was not in fact new. A number of similar virtual currency systems including e-Cash, Bit Gold and RPOW, were introduced in the 1990s.

“The true innovation of cryptocurrencies following the ‘Bitcoin model’ is their innovative approach to addressing the ‘double spending problem’,” Dr Borg continues. “This refers to the inherent difficulty of sending money or anything valuable over the internet since a digital asset essentially comprises a digital file that can be duplicated or falsified.”

Pre-Bitcoin, existing virtual currency systems required the use of an intermediary or clearinghouse to manage and verify the transaction (and ensure that the same money was not spent twice). The Blockchain, which underlies cryptocurrencies, does away with the need for such an intermediary by keeping a record of every transaction on a time-stamped database that is dispersed among the different users of the network. “Blockchain’s solution to the ‘double spending problem’ has been described as its ‘revolutionary promise’ and the hype factor surrounding the technology has now led multiple companies to unveil a multitude of Blockchain initiatives,” the advocate continues.

“The hype is really about Blockchain and not cryptocurrencies per se. Cryptocurrencies are really the very first application of Blockchain technology, and which have the potential to disrupt the payments industry, once they have achieved the level of mainstream use.”

On the other hand, Blockchain has more widespread potential applications, in myriad industries, including but not limited to the spheres of finance, healthcare, energy and entertainment. “The buzz surrounding Blockchain technologies continues to grow, and this is most evidently illustrated by the rapid increase in the creation of not only new cryptocurrencies (the so-called ‘altcoins’), but also by the creation of self-executing digital contracts (smart contracts), intelligent assets which may be controlled over the Internet (smart property), and decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) which can operate over a network of computers without human intervention, among many other applications,” Dr Borg says.

Locally, Government approved its National Blockchain Strategy in April 2017 and, just a few months later, launched a Blockchain Taskforce with a view to establish the Maltese legal system as the leading international hub for digital technology innovation.

“Currently, the only concrete step undertaken by Government towards achieving a comprehensive regulatory framework for operators wishing to provide services incorporating Blockchain technology is the Supplementary Rules for Collective Investment Schemes Investing in Virtual Currencies, issued by the local financial regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA),” Dr Borg says.

Following on from this, a consultation document was published on 16th February 2018 proposing three legislative instruments: the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) Bill, the Technology Arrangements (TAs) Bill and the Virtual Currency (VC) Bill. The MDIA Act is envisaged to provide for the establishment of a national regulatory body that will oversee the voluntary certification of TAs such as smart contracts and cryptocurrency platforms, and the registration of Technology Service Providers (TSPs) including the auditors and administrators of TAs. The MDIA will be responsible, inter alia, for the protection of users and consumers which interface or use DLT, the harmonisation of practices and the adoption of standards in the Maltese sector, and the promotion of legal certainty in the application of laws to DLT businesses, in both a national and a cross-border context.

“Mindful that the disruptive nature of Blockchain technology renders it apt to have spill-over effects in an array of sectors, the MDIA Act is proposed to prescribe a Joint Coordination Board with the responsibility of fostering effective cooperation between National Competent Authorities like the MFSA and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA),” Dr Borg continues. “The consultation document also proposes a VC Act which will largely follow the principles laid down in the MFSA’s discussion paper on ICOs, virtual currencies and related service providers. It is projected that the VC Act will provide for a Financial Instruments Test which will determine whether a particular cryptocurrency, within the context of an ICO or on a stand-alone basis, constitutes a ‘financial instrument’ which must comply with applicable local and EU investment services legislation.

“With this in mind, Government evidently looks favourably upon Blockchain-based businesses and is actively seeking to create a workable regulatory framework to further promote this nascent industry and to become a pioneer in regulating DLT and Blockchain technology. While other jurisdictions have chosen to regulate Blockchain-related operations in a piecemeal fashion, focusing only on the areas that the respective governments/states consider to be of importance (such as issues of taxation or money laundering), the Maltese Government is considering a holistic, all-encompassing regulatory approach to creating the most attractive environment for Blockchain start-ups to choose Malta as their base. Evidently, the recent announcement by cryptocurrency exchange Binance (the largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of volume) is proof that Malta is indeed becoming a melting pot for Blockchain businesses, start-ups and industry giants alike.”

Finally, Dr Borg assesses the main challenges that lie ahead of making Malta the jurisdiction of choice for companies engaged in Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

“While the debate surrounding the possibility for centralised rules to regulate decentralised technologies remains unsettled, there seems to be consensus by the stakeholders and market players of the Blockchain and cryptocurrency industry that some form of regulation (especially in the form of guidance) is important,” he says.

“The greatest challenge to make Malta the jurisdiction of choice for Blockchain-based businesses therefore rests in any proposed regulatory framework not falling prey to over-regulation. The test for local policymakers and regulators will be the development of a regulatory system which addresses the primary policy concerns of Blockchain technologies (such as money laundering and illicit activities), without smothering the benefits which the new technology and its various applications are poised to provide to legitimate users, including companies.”

 

Source:  MaltaChamber.org.mt

 

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Week 7 slot games releases

George Miller

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Week 7/2019 slot games releases
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

It’s Friday already, so kick back and have a look at this week’s latest slot game releases!

 

D-Tech, the new independent games studio building Asian themed games, surprised us with the release of ‘Year of the Dog’, the first of its games to be released in partnership with Leander Games. Steven Matsell, CEO of Leander Games, added: “Asian-themed games are popular around the globe and we have seen a particular surge in interest in Europe with dedicated tabs within the casino offering.

D-Tech with Leander Games and releases first slot game

 

 
Endorphina took things a step further by turning our imagination into a reality in their newest slot game #luxurylife, which is a light sequel from their long-time hit Jetsetter. This time, a dream couple will lead us through the game, surrounded by the finest luxury goods to live your best life. #couplegoals. As the name suggests, one of the main highlights of the game stems from the life lived on social media – in which some people live their glorious lives and are not afraid to share their lifestyle with their followers while setting new trends.

 luxurylife slot from Endorphina

 

 
Quickspin stepped up and released their vintage, space-based slot game called: Ticket to the Stars. Erik Gullstrand, leading Chief Product Officer at Quickspin, said: “Our team has combined the futuristic idea of touring the galaxy with the stylish look of vintage Work Projects Administration posters, all accompanied by beautiful audio compositions. It’s an amazing game with lots of exciting features, and we’re confident that the players will love it just as much as we do!”

Quickspin’s Ticket to the Stars

 

 
Kalamba Games’ new title Desert Gem take’s players on a treasure hunt for gold and gems that unlock bonus rounds, free spins and bonus jackpots. Set in a desert landscape, the game offers a treasure trove of exciting in-game features taking players on a quest for hidden gems, additional free spins and wild multipliers. Alex Cohen, chief operating officer and co-founder at Kalamba Games, said: “With volatile game play cloaked in a fun and funky treasure hunt theme, Desert Gem applies many proven engaging in-game mechanics that players have come to expect from Kalamba Games.

 Kalamba Games’ Desert Gem

 

 
PokerStars Casino has launched its latest in-house developed slot game innovation, Victory Tribes, in an industry first which introduces multiple community features to a real-money slot experience. The tribal-themed slot allows players to customize their game by selecting their “tribe” and taking on opponents in the bonus game, “Tournament Battles.” Five times every hour, up to 50 players will battle each other for victory and big prizes.

PokerStars Casino - Victory Tribes slot

 

 
Blueprint Gaming is leading players to experience the power of the gods in the mythical land of Asgard with its latest release, Lightning Strike MegawaysTMThe electrifying gameplay features a variety of symbols inspired by Norse mythology, including the mythical tree of Yggdrasil, which when visible reveals a mystery symbol and increases the chances of winning.

Blueprint Gaming - Lightning Strike Megaways

 

 
We end this week’s releales with another historic release from Play’n GO: Queen’s Day Tilt! Based on the Accession Day Tilts started under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the game is based around the fun and festivities that took place during the celebration. Play’n GO have again paid particular detail to historical accuracy, providing an extra edge to the game and its design. The game is the first 3×3 grid slot from Play’n G, a modern update of a classic slot game design, allowing for “larger symbols and easier visibility” while increasing the chances of clearing the grid, creating a lot more action for the players.

 Play’n GO: Queen’s Day Tilt!

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Paddy Power Betfair to appeal penalty of €55 million

Niji Ng

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Paddy Power Betfair to appeal penalty of €55 million
Photo Source: fora.ie
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Paddy Power Betfair has announced that it will appeal against the tax bill of €55m slapped against its German and Greek businesses.

The first fine of €40m concerns the Betfair Exchange in Germany, which was operational up to November 2012, while the second of €15m relates to the paddypower.com business in Greece.

The Hessen Fiscal Court provided Paddy Power Betfair with a decision relating to the group’s appeal of a 2012 German tax assessment relating to the Betfair Exchange. The Fiscal Court found against the Group and deemed that a tax liability of €40m is payable, including accrued interest.

Paddy Power Betfair says this represents a multiple of the revenues generated by the Exchange during the assessment period. Separately, the group was recently issued with a Greek tax assessment for financial years 2012, 2013 and 2014, relating to paddypower.com’s Greek interim license.

Paddy Power Betfair stated: “The Group strongly disputes the basis of these assessments, and in line with the legal and tax advice we have received, is confident in our grounds to appeal. We therefore intend to do so. Pending the outcome of these appeals, we paid the total Greek liability in January 2019 while we await clarity with respect to the timing of any cash payment in Germany.”

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NBA 2K League partners with Champion athletic apparel

Niji Ng

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NBA 2K League partners with Champion athletic apparel
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Ahead of the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft, which is scheduled on March 5 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the NBA 2K League has signed multiyear partnership with Champion Athleticwear. As per the agreement, the sportswear company will serve as the league’s official outfitter.

Champion will offer the NBA 2K League’s 21 teams game uniforms as well as warmup, travel and practice apparel. In-game avatars will also be outfitted in Champion-branded uniforms. Throughout the season, Champion will provide apparel for marquee events like the NBA 2K League Draft Clash, in-season tournaments and the NBA 2K League Finals. Starting today, fans can purchase NBA 2K League merchandise on Champion.com.

“We are thrilled to have an iconic brand like Champion as our official outfitter,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue. “Champion’s authentic designs and innovative products make them a great partner for the league, and we can’t wait to see our teams compete in their new uniforms this season.”

“The need for esports apparel is quickly evolving and Champion is pleased to be an integral part of this historical opportunity,” said Champion Group President-Global Activewear Jon Ram. “Being the official outfitters for the NBA 2K League is an exciting and pivotal opportunity for Champion to continue our evolution and expansion to outfit teams within the esports and traditional sports communities. Together we can push the boundaries and bring esports to a wider audience.”

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