Malta revamps crypto regulations in anticipation of EU’s MiCA laws

Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has initiated significant amendments to its existing crypto guidelines to align with the European Union’s upcoming Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations. The changes, open for public consultation until September 29, aim to facilitate a smooth transition for Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) providers when MiCA takes effect in December 2024.

Streamlining compliance and oversight

The revised framework grants the MFSA enhanced oversight capabilities, including the authority to object to the appointment or replacement of required IT auditors for crypto companies. The regulator can also mandate external reviews or audits of a company’s IT systems. A letter of engagement between the auditor and the crypto company will be obligatory, clarifying the responsibilities of both parties. Furthermore, the MFSA will require companies to disclose the “scale, nature, and range of VFA services provided.”

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The new guidelines also introduce a contingency planning requirement. Licensed VFA service providers, including custodians and exchanges, must formulate a comprehensive plan to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations under national law, should the need arise.

Notable changes

Among the significant alterations to the VFA Rulebook are the removal of the systems audit requirement and the reduction of capital requirements for Class 3 and 4 license holders to $133,000 and $159,000, respectively. The professional indemnity insurance requirement has been eliminated, and outsourcing requirements have been updated to align with MiCA standards.

The decision to amend existing regulations rather than wait for the universal MiCA laws reflects Malta’s commitment to maintaining a robust and compliant crypto ecosystem. The island nation’s VFA framework, initially established in 2018, was already based on Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) principles, from which MiCA also derives several guidelines.

Malta is not alone in this endeavor; France has also updated its crypto regulations to align with the forthcoming MiCA laws, set to take effect in early 2024. The early modifications are expected to help VFA license holders in Malta seamlessly transition to MiCA-based laws and obtain the EU license.

The amendments signify Malta’s intent to remain at the forefront of crypto regulation, ensuring that its framework is not only robust but also agile enough to adapt to broader European standards. With these changes, Malta aims to fortify its position as a leading crypto hub while adhering to the crypto regulatory landscape.

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