Malta has become one of the most vibrant environments for operating electronic gambling businesses, and as a consequence, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) that offer the infrastructure for handling the transactions in this sector. Malta now has the third highest number of EMIs in Europe, coming after the UK and Lithuania.
Malta was one of the first EU jurisdictions to issue specific regulations for EMIs. Today, Malta continues to be at the forefront of technology regulation and fintech, having been the first jurisdiction to enact specific DLT (Blockchain) and cryptocurrencies regulatory frameworks. The main advantages that Malta offers to EMIs are a high level of economic and political stability, an excellent telecom and IT infrastructure with outstanding levels of availability and stability, Malta’s early enactment of laws in relation to blockchain and other fintech services, and probably the most important advantage lies in its membership of the European Union which means that Malta-based EMIs have a passport to offer services right across the EU.
Authorization of electronic money institutions in Malta is controlled by the Malta Financial Services Authority which defines an electronic money institution as an institution undertaking payment services and the issuance of electronic money. EMIs based in Malta are allowed to issue debit cards (such as a chip device) but not credit cards since such institutions are not permitted to undertake lending or other bank related activities.
The majority of the EMIs are privately owned with low initial start-up capital investment, just enough to meet the requirements of the European regulations that stipulates a minimum paid-up capital of €350,000. With the exception of EMIs that have been listed onto a public stock exchange, it is not possible to determine the size of each of the banks in order to draw up a list of the largest electronic money institutions in Malta.