OKEx to Become Second Major Cryptocurrency Exchange to Move to Malta

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Another major cryptocurrency exchange is about to set up shop in Malta, cementing the small Mediterranean island nation’s status as a burgeoning hub for cryptocurrency startups.

OKEx, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange as measured by daily trading volume, on Thursday announced that it will open an office in Malta and make it a “foundation for further OKEx growth.”

“Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry. More specifically, Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem,” explained Tim Byun, chief risk officer and head of government relations at OKEx.

“We look forward to working with the Malta government as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values: the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem,” added Chris Lee, CEO of OKEx.

Currently, OKEx is one of several exchanges that are based out of Hong Kong, which is known for its business-friendly climate but has lately begun to take a harder line against cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Malta, on the other hand, has begun actively courting cryptocurrency firms. Government officials have said that they want to transform the EU member state into a “Blockchain Island” through the passage of blockchain-friendly legislation.

Last month, it saw the first major fruits of those efforts, as fellow Hong Kong-based exchange Binance — currently the largest in the world — revealed that it would relocate its headquarters to Malta, rather than Japan as it had once planned.

Malta’s prime minister personally welcomed the company to the region, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has said that he is aware of more than 20 cryptocurrency projects considering a move to Malta.

Notabaly, though OKEx and Binance are not the only Hong Kong-based exchanges plotting to relocate their operations. Bitfinex, the sixth-largest cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly planning to move its headquarters to Switzerland.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Josiah is a full-time journalist at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.