Malta is not a Blockchain Island : Interview with Ian Gauci ①

We had the opportunity of having a mindblowing interview with Mr Ian Gauci who is one of the leading lawyers in Malta, and has contributed in creating the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. He also is a strategic advisor appointed by the Maltese Government established the Blockchain Task Force . Take a look at when we says ”We are an Innovation Hub”

Ian Gauci (Lawyer)

Interview Date :19th February 2020    

10 years ago, Lawyer said “This will be the future”

I think the first time I heard about crypto was approx. 10 years ago. What intrigued me then, and still does, more than crypto and bitcoin, was the technology and the medium behind it; the blockchain. At that time, there was a conference in Abu Dhabi, which I decided to attend. When I heard about the blockchain technology and crypto, I remember telling my partners “Listen, this blockchain technology is great,” and the senior partners who are now in their sixties and are the typical conservative lawyers asked “do you see any value in it?” I told them “This will be the future!”

After taking part in my first Blockchain conference, I continued to research about it and study it as well as writing articles about it. I also met similar minded people both locally and abroad, and we started exchanging ideas. I started learning from people who had a PhD in technology even though I am not a technologist, I still loved the technology. This also made me think about amplifying some legal concepts in that regard. Later on, the Maltese Government established the Blockchain Task Force, and I was appointed on this Task Force as an advisor to the Government. From there on, together with a fantastic team of experts, we started writing the law in respect of this new technology. We expanded further and created the Malta Blockchain Association and branched out to universities in order to teach people about it.

We are not a Blockchain Island

I would not say that we are a “Blockchain Island” like many people say, but I would rather say that we are an “Innovation Hub.” This attribute of being a Blockchain Island arose and stuck because we were one of the first countries to tap into this new ecosystem, whereas other countries were being more restrictive or decided to ban it. So, in a way we kick started a whole movement from Malta. We acknowledged that crypto is something a little different from financial services; it had value and could propel blockchain as a technology, in other words the DLT. This is due to it being the underlying layer, and the underlying technology.

We were also aware that the crypto industry was fraught with problems due to fraud as well as a clear lack of experience from the market players. That in turn prompted us to intervene as we saw that regulation was required. So, we took that particular angle and I think here is where Malta is unique when it comes to crypto – the fact that we guided and created regulation, and licensing on the crypto side with a technology authority being part of it as well. At the end of the day, Fin-tech is a space for technology where you have functions  including automation, disintermediation, decentralization, etc,. are emanating from it. All these functions are detaching the human from elements of responsibility, regulation and sometimes control. Hence we also crafted a specific regime to cater for certification of technology, and what we refer to as, innovative technology arrangements.

The nomenclature of Crypto

When talking about Crypto (not blockchain), its definition as well as its treatment under our Law depends in the first instance on the outcome of what we call, an FIT test, to determine whether it is a payment instrument, a security, a financial instrument, e-money, a virtual asset or else a virtual financial asset, which is a storage of value and a medium of exchange.

In, Malta, we don’t use the term “Cryptocurrency” or “Token”. Instead we do call it a “virtual financial asset”. We first start by analyzing a particular token. When we analyze a token, we assess whether it as a payment instrument, e-money or a security. If it would have the attributes of money, it will not be regulated by the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) but by Financial Services.



Dr Ian Gauci is the Managing Partner at GTG Advocates, Afilexion Alliance and Caledo Group. He is engaged primarily in technology law, fintech, regtech, electronic communications, information society, data protection and gaming/gambling, while also focusing on consumer law, competition law, broadcasting law, cyber law, e-commerce, m-commerce, e-health, e-payment, information technology, unfair commercial practices and misleading advertising.


Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada



The Article published on this our Homepage are only for the purpose of providing information. This is not intended as a solicitation for cryptocurrency trading. Also, this article is the author’s personal opinions, and this does not represent opinion for the Company BTCBOX co.,Ltd.