Poland's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, BitBay, is moving on to greener pastures. The company announced the suspension of its operations in Poland, where banks have been less than cooperative. BitBay is headed to the island country of Malta, which has given itself the nickname of Blockchain Island. BitBay is leaving the city of Katowice where it was founded in 2014 to bring cryptocurrency trading to Poland.
It's not the first exchange redomiciling in Malta and its decision comes on the heels of Binance, the world's leading cryptocurrency exchange by volume (total volume in the last 24-hour period is $1.5 billion), moving from Hong Kong to the Mediterranean island.
In Poland, BitBay hit a snag when the only bank that was willing to cooperate with the exchange ultimately decided to end the relationship effective May 31. Banks around the world have been reluctant to support cryptocurrency exchanges, and it's causing problems for the industry. BitBay was down to its last banking relationship in Poland and had been exploring its options already in search of the most cryptocurrency friendly jurisdiction it could find in the European Union.
BitBay executives touted "productive discussions with the government of Republic of Malta and [a] friendly business environment."
In the meantime, account holders on BitBay's Polish platform can access all of the trading platform's functionality until May 31. As of Sept. 18, 2018, traders can only make withdrawals, as deposits will no longer be supported. The official suspension of trading on BitBay's Polish operations takes effect on Sept. 17, 2018.
BitBay is looking to migrate its users over to the new platform and will prompt its members upon logging in to create a new account on the Malta platform. The dashboard should look the same, as the exchange will continue to use the same software that traders are used to.
While countries like Poland and even Japan are making it difficult for cryptocurrency exchanges to run their businesses, Malta is rolling out the welcome mat, as evidenced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's tweet in response to Binance's announcement.
As the smallest member of the European Union, Malta is an example of a tiny island country whose cryptocurrency regulation is advancing while crypto policies by larger governments around the world stall. Malta is currently efforting a trio of blockchain-fueled bills that will advance the industry in the jurisdiction, including a bill dedicated to regulating digital currencies, initial coin offerings and crypto exchanges.
Malta's economy is fueled largely by financial services and online gaming, and officials believe they can leverage their strength in these areas to take a leadership position in distributed ledger technology.
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