Publication of Consultation paper relating to DLT, ICO's and virtual currencies

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20 February, 2018 - Publication of Consultation paper relating to DLT, ICO’s and virtual currencies - The Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, has published a Consultation Paper in relation to the establishment of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) and the framework for the certification of Distributed Ledger Technology Platforms and related service providers.

To start off, the consultation proposes three key pieces of legislation to be put forward namely

The MDIA Bill (Malta Digital Innovation Authority Bill) seeking to set up this authority with its own judicial and legal personality with business carried out by a Board of Governers, it shall be responsible to certify Technology Arrangements and register Technology Service Providers in terms of the TAS Bill, in this regard it will be the designated National Competent Authority. The MDIA can also appoint inspectors and impose administrative penalties as well as issue public statements about a person’s misconduct amongst other powers delegated to it;

The TAS Bill (Technology Services Providers Bill) seeking to regulate Technology Service Providers and will also certify Techonology Arragements as long as these feature an administrator registered with the MDIA

The VC Bill (Virtual Currencies Bill) seeking to propose and create a framework within which ICOs can launch.

Technology Arrangements

The TAS bill is proposing the definition and regulation of Technology Arrangements, auditors of Technology Arrangements related to smart contracts and administrators of Technology Arrangements. Initially DLT Platforms and smart contracts will be regulated by the TAS Bill and any person may request the MDIA to certify a Technology Arrangement as long as this has an Administrator assigned to it, duly registered with the MDIA. It is also being proposed that smart contracts are afforded a degree of legal certainty by inserting a provision that such contracts are not excluded simply because of their nature.

Technology Service Providers

It is being proposed that key service providers to a Technology Arrangement be appointed namely, an Auditor of a Technology Arrangement who reviews and assesses the arrangement and an Administrator of a Technology Arrangement who assumes the responisibility to manage the operation. The MDIA will accept registration for such Providers from Maltese persons (corporate, unincorporated or associations) as well as from other EEA Member States if they provide services in Malta. A fit and proper test will also be applicable.

ICOs and the VC Bill

Certain ICOs and VCs may fall within the scope of existing investment services regulations and therefore the MFSA has proposed a Financial Instruments Test to gauge whether an ICO or VC could classify as a financial Instrument falling under investment services regulation or whether it will fall within the scope of the VC Bill.

The MFSA is proposing that the Financial Instruments Test would be applicable to issuers and/or persons offering ICOs conducted in or from Malta to determine whether such activity falls within MiFID and the Prospectus Directive. The Financial Instruments Test also applies to persons providing services and/or activities in relation to non-classified VCs, this Financial Instruments Test is to give a degree of legal certainty regarding the regulation of the asset at hand.

The proposed VC bill will create a framework in the field of ICOs and a regulatory framework applicable to service providers offering services in relation to VCs falling outside existing regimes. ICOs relating to VCs not qualifying as financial instruments will be set minimum transparent requirements and an essential list of information that needs to be communicated through the whitepaper. Persons providing such services will be also be regulated by licensing requirements and ongoing obligations. The MFSA will also be afforded regulatory and investigative powers and the ability to suspend an ICO or trading of a VC on an exchange.

The full document is available here.

At Gonzi & Associates, Advocates, we shall continue to be active in the legal developments concerning ICOs, VCs and other related service providers and activities. For more information on this and other related matters, kindly contact us on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  at your convenience.

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