Binance is moving to Malta. Owned by billionaire Zhao Changpeng, Binance is one of the world’s biggest crypto-exchanges but, as has been widely reported, has recently received warnings from Japan and Hong Kong financial authorities about operating without the required regulatory approvals.
Binance is now setting up an office in the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta and although Zhao has not given specific dates, he told Bloomberg he is close to securing deals with Maltese banks that will enable Binance to soon open a cash-to-crypto exchange. “Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech,” Zhao said.
Zhao, who had already moved his business from China when Beijing tightened its grip on crypto trading last year, was in the news again earlier this month when Binance was subject to a sophisticated but ultimately unsuccessful hacking attempt. Zhao went on to put up a $250,000 bounty to help catch the hackers and encouraged other exchanges to follow suit.
Malta has the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU and, while working hard to shake-off a persistent “tax haven” label, has been eager to promote itself as a fin-tech and crypto hub. And with Zhao, it seems to have paid off.
It’s easy to understand why Joseph Muscat, the country’s prime minister, tweeted somewhat eagerly “Welcome to #Malta @binance,” on Friday morning. Now Binance is trading at just over $1.5 billion a day. Malta’s GDP is a little more than $11 billion a year.
Is that the sound of champagne corks popping over the Mediterranean?