Cryptocurrency’s explosive growth in the past year has forced the public to pay attention. What was once a niche concern has now vaulted into the mainstream, drawing attention from news outlets, everyday investors, and, inevitably, government officials. Regulation is the latest hot-button issue in crypto, and its effects are being studied in real-time. Let’s examine how regulation has influenced trading volumes so far.
The United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States, Singapore, and Turkey host the most cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, in that order. But Malta currently hosts the largest share of crypto trading volume in the world, followed by Belize, the Seychelles, the United States, and South Korea, respectively. Malta and Belize, ranked 22nd and 24th by number of exchanges, are clear outliers. So how are they getting so much trading volume?
The discrepancy can be explained by regulatory frameworks in each country.
Favorable Regulations = More Action
Naturally, exchanges look for countries offering favorable regulations to their businesses. But permissiveness within those frameworks, while an important factor, is often less significant than how clear, defined, and easy-to-understand the regulations are. Countries like the United States and South Korea have begun exploring ways to regulate crypto markets, but those arrangements are very much in flux and undefined. Meanwhile, Malta and Belize, along with Switzerland, Gibraltar, and others, have moved quickly to attract crypto companies.
Malta has done an especially good job of quickly and clearly defining guidelines for crypto companies. The government’s legislative efforts, which are focused on virtual currencies and blockchain technology, are part of a crypto-friendly initiative geared towards creating a ‘blockchain island.’ Sheenah Shah, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, found that their quick, clear action created regulatory certainty that “is part of the attractiveness for [cryptocurrency] companies, [who] can plan for the future as they know what to expect.” Unsurprisingly, Shah also found the low tax rates offered by Maltese regulations to be a positive.
The move reaped immediate dividends when Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, relocated its headquarters to the Mediterranean island. OKEx, the second largest exchange, has since headquartered in Belize. Each exchange’s size accounts for Malta and Belize’s outsized trading volume – more importantly, it indicates the benefits of successful legislation. The legislative framework in each country leaves each poised to welcome more crypto businesses – and their tax revenues – with open arms.
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