The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is to help the Malta Stock Exchange support fintech startups and entrepreneurs.

Binance will work with the MSE to develop the MSX FinTech Accelerator Programme, which will help startups in the sector access professional business services and facilities and provide them with access to mentors who can help match budding companies to global leaders in the sector.

The accelerator programme has also signed up with other exchanges, including Thomson Reuters, to serve as mentors to local startups.

As programme sponsor, the Malta Stock Exchange will offer start-ups access to in-house accounting services and payroll, office space, state of the art communication, conference rooms and a training centre.

The programme seeks to capitalise on Malta’s growing prominence in the fintech and crypto sphere, with the government actively promoting the country as the ‘Blockchain island’ to overseas investors.

Binance, which is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, last arch announced that it would be opening a Malta office. A Maltese base - and bank account - should enable the company to start offering Euro trading pairs, with its CEO having said he wants Binance to allow users to exchange traditional, fiat currencies for cryptocurrencies directly.

Malta is now home to three cryptocurrency exchanges, including two of the five biggest.

Development in the sector is expected to pick up pace in the coming months, as with legislation introducing a regulatory framework expected to be approved by parliament before the start of its summer recess.

The proposed legislation will introduce a brand-new regulator and lay out rules by which companies in the Distributed Ledger Technology sector, from platform-based services to smart contracts and Initial Coin Offerings, can operate.

Although legislators are keen to attract investment in the burgeoning sector, banking institutions appear less keen.

Investors say most Maltese banks remain reluctant to do business with companies in the sector, mirroring problems retail investors ran into in late 2017, when BOV opted to block all transactions to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri had downplayed that decision, saying he was sure it was a “short-term” one.

MSE chairman Joseph Portelli is nevertheless bullish about the sector’s prospects in Malta.

"It is clear that Malta is becoming a Fintech and blockchain centre of excellence and we want to allow local and foreign companies the ability to bring their ideas to the market faster,” he said.

“This programme offers foreign entrepreneurs easy access to a readymade solution at one of Malta's most prestigious addresses -the Malta Stock Exchange."

A Binance spokesman said the company had opted to shift its operations to Malta “because it has demonstrated its progressive approach to supporting and developing the crypto and blockchain industry.   

“Malta is creating a safe and legislated environment for the industry to become reputable, attracting companies like ours and many others. The Malta Stock Exchange reflects these values, providing the infrastructure for entrepreneurs and start-ups to flourish in what is otherwise a highly competitive industry.”

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