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Finance practitioners discuss new crypto assets regulations at MFSA conference

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Over 500 people visited the Hilton Hotel on Thursday to discuss the way forward on the Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation, or MiCA.

The conference, organised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), brings together foreign experts and key figures from Europe and the US to shed light on the MiCA regulation, which came into force in June 2023.

The MiCA regulation creates uniform market rules for crypto-assets in the EU in the hopes of providing legal certainty for businesses while protecting consumers and investors.

Malta had already passed a bill to regulate virtual financial assets in 2018, but with the new MiCA regulations, the bill will have to be updated and brought in line with European legislation.

Speakers at the conference discussed investor protection while drawing on insights from Malta’s previous regulatory experience. The conference also looked at supervisory convergence, the nuances in regulating the crypto-assets space, and the impact of the MiCA regulation on traditional banking.

MFSA CEO Kenneth Farrugia opened the event with a commitment from the regulator to ensure that the industry is well-equipped to protect investors and combat financial crime.

“We strive to create a jurisdiction that is attractive to quality players and service providers, leading the way in safeguarding the interests of our stakeholders, and creating an environment that is conducive to innovation and development,” Farrugia said.

Verena Ross, who chairs the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), praised the MFSA for bringing together EU supervisors to discuss MiCA implementation.

“Our ambition is to ensure that the MiCA regulation is effective from day one of application and this requires a collective effort on supervisory convergence from all authorities involved,” she said.

Ross added that open dialogue is crucial for the implementation of MiCA, stressing that there is “no such thing as a safe crypto asset” even with the regulations in place. “Retail investors need to be conscious of this.”

The MFSA’s chief officer supervision, Christopher P. Buttigieg, said the MiCA framework is a significant step forward in supervisory convergence. “Today’s discussions at the conference reinforce our commitment to this collaborative effort, ensuring a balanced and effective regulatory environment,” he said.

Other supervisors and academics participated in the conference, including Herman Ciappara, MFSA’s Head of FinTech Supervision; Dr. Reto Degan, Director, FMA Lichtenstein; Maria Teresa Paracampo, Associate Professor of Financial Markets Law and Digital Innovation, University of Bari; and Dr. Ioannis Revolidis, Lecturer of Media, Communications and Technology Law, University of Athens.

Jesmond Gatt, MFSA chairman, said the conference shows the importance of collaboration when shaping the regulatory landscape for crypto assets.

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