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In recent years, Malta has solidified its standing as a pivotal centre for EMIs, setting itself apart from other jurisdictions by virtue of its advantageous geographical positioning, sophisticated regulatory framework, and conducive economic environment. This surge in interest towards the jurisdiction is not fortuitous; rather, it stems directly from the concerted efforts of the Maltese Government and the MFSA regulator, aimed at fostering an appealing and dependable regulatory milieu for fintech enterprises.

Understanding the EMI licence

An EMI licence bestows upon a financial institution the authority to create and administer electronic funds. Electronic money denotes a digital manifestation of currency employed for online transactions or fund transfers among users. EMIs occupy a pivotal role in the contemporary financial ecosystem by furnishing innovative payment solutions that expedite swift and secure transactions sans the necessity for physical currency or conventional bank transfers. They are instrumental in advancing the digital economy by furnishing users with convenient and cost-effective avenues for storing, transferring, and utilising funds.

Distinguishing EMIs from traditional financial institutions

The principal disparity between EMIs and traditional financial institutions lies in the provision and utilisation of financial services. While banks and conventional establishments typically offer an extensive array of financial services encompassing lending, deposits, and investment products, EMIs concentrate on electronic funds transactions and payment services, proffering pioneering payment solutions without direct involvement in traditional deposit-taking operations. Moreover, disparities exist in the regulatory landscape. Although both EMIs and banking entities fall under regulatory oversight, the criteria and procedure for securing an EMI licence in Malta are customised to their specific activities, rendering the process more targeted and aligned with their distinct operations.

An overview of jurisdiction

Malta presents a unique amalgamation of factors, rendering it an optimal domicile for EMI endeavours. Firstly, the country's accession to the European Union in 2004 facilitated Maltese-licensed EMIs' ingress into the European Single Market, enabling them to operate across the EU under a singular licence. Furthermore, Malta's proclivity towards innovative fintech regulation, exemplified by its proactive stance on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, renders it an attractive destination for fintech startups seeking to pioneer advancements. Additionally, Malta boasts a highly skilled workforce, relatively modest operational expenses, and a favourable tax regime. A superlative standard of living and political stability further enhance its allure, rendering Malta not solely a site for business incorporation but also an appealing locale for residency.

The legal framework for EMI operations in Malta

The Maltese jurisdiction furnishes a lucid and methodical legal infrastructure for EMIs, positioning it as one of the most sought-after venues for licensing. Malta's EMI legislation is underpinned by the EU Directive 2009/110/EC, which has been transposed into national law, ensuring conformity with uniform regulations and practices across the European Union. The MFSA spearheads the regulation and oversight of EMIs in Malta. This regulatory body not only issues licences but also ensures stringent adherence to established regulations and standards, including AML protocols, customer privacy safeguards, and CFT measures.

Key requirements for Malta EMI licensing

Securing a digital currency licence in Malta necessitates compliance with a series of foundational criteria meticulously crafted by the MFSA. These criteria are designed to uphold institutional financial stability, integrity, and consumer protection.

Capital adequacy and financial obligations

A paramount condition for obtaining an EMI licence in Malta revolves around the possession of adequate authorized capital. This stipulation underscores the financial capacity of the enterprise to embark upon and sustain its operations at a requisite standard. In accordance with Maltese legislation and European Union benchmarks, the mandated minimum share capital for an EMI in Malta stands at €350K.

This capital must be fully subscribed and available for utilization from the onset of operations. Serving as a financial bulwark, the authorized capital enables the company to navigate potential financial exigencies and risks inherent in its undertakings. Furthermore, the presence of substantial authorized capital signifies the earnestness of the enterprise's pursuits and its adeptness in managing business risks.

Qualifications and reputation of C-level personnel

The competency and probity of senior management and personnel bear paramount importance in the pursuit of an EMI licence in Malta. The MFSA conducts a meticulous evaluation of the professional pedigree, educational attainments, and reputational standing of each pivotal individual assuming managerial and supervisory roles within the enterprise.

Prospective incumbents of key positions within the organization must evince not only profound expertise and practical acumen in finance, banking, or technology but also possess an unblemished commercial reputation. Management is expected to exhibit efficacy in steering the financial institution, encompassing the capability to ensure adherence to Maltese legislation and international regulatory imperatives in its operations.

To ascertain conformity with these criteria, the MFSA undertakes rigorous background assessments of candidates, encompassing scrutiny for criminal antecedents, financial irregularities, and other factors that might impinge upon the company's credibility. Additionally, management is mandated to evince a lucid comprehension of Maltese financial services legislation and the capacity to adhere thereto.

Alignment with these criteria constitutes a prerequisite for successful licensure and assumes pivotal significance in safeguarding the long-term stability and upholding the reputation of Maltese EMIs as esteemed and responsible stakeholders within the financial domain.

Documentation requirements

The pursuit of an e-money service provider licence in Malta mandates meticulous preparations and furnishing of a comprehensive dossier of documents. The MFSA imposes stringent documentation requisites to ensure that all applicants adhere to exacting standards of compliance and governance.

Principal among the requisite papers for a Malta EMI licence are as follows:

Licence permit application form:

an application containing fundamental details pertaining to the enterprise, its organizational structure, and envisaged operations.

Confirmation of authorized capital:

official financial documentation attesting to the possession of the authorized capital.

Business plan:

 a comprehensive blueprint delineating organizational objectives, market analysis, service/product descriptions, marketing strategies, risk assessment policies, and financial projections spanning the ensuing three years.

Internal rules and procedures documentation:

 elucidation of internal risk management protocols, AML/CFT policies, internal audit frameworks, and customer data management procedures.

Management personnel information:

biographical profiles and resumes of key personnel, accompanied by evidence of their qualifications and professional track record. Certificates affirming good conduct and financial probity are mandatory for all senior and management personnel.

Constituent and corporate documents:

submission of foundational organizational documents such as the Articles of Association, Memorandum of Incorporation, and ancillary documents verifying registration and legitimacy of operations.

Data protection:

a delineation of measures instituted to safeguard clients' personal data in compliance with GDPR stipulations.

This compendium of documents is not exhaustive and may be subject to augmentation contingent upon individual circumstances and MFSA stipulations. Diligent preparation of each document is imperative to ensure the successful culmination of the EMI licensing process in Malta.

Procedure for obtaining an EMI licence in Malta

Securing an EMI licence in Malta entails a methodical, multi-stage process, necessitating meticulous preparation, strategic foresight, and unwavering adherence to regulatory mandates. Let us delineate the salient stages of this procedural trajectory:

Preparatory phase

Prior to embarking upon the pursuit of a Malta EMI licence, enterprises are tasked with crafting a comprehensive business plan and assembling all requisite documentation. In addition to the business blueprint, the company must compile the array of papers outlined above.

Submission of application to the MFSA

The subsequent step entails the submission of an application to the MFSA. This dossier must encompass all collated documents and expound upon the company's strategies for compliance with prevailing regulatory requisites. The MFSA conducts a scrupulous appraisal of the submitted documentation, with the prerogative to solicit supplementary information or elucidation.

MFSA audit and review procedure

Upon receipt of the application, the MFSA initiates an audit and validation process, entailing an exhaustive evaluation of the furnished information and documents. During this juncture, the regulatory entity reserves the right to convene meetings with applicant representatives and requisition further elucidation on the submitted papers. Particular emphasis is placed upon scrutinizing the financial robustness of the company, the proficiency, and credentials of its managerial cadre, as well as the adequacy of formulated internal protocols and policies.

Granting of licence

Subsequent to ascertaining conformity with stipulated requirements, the MFSA confers a licence permitting operation as an EMI in Malta. The duration of the licensing procedure for electronic money institutions may span anywhere from six months to a year.

Operational obligations and post-licensing oversight

Upon attaining licensure as an electronic money institution in Malta, companies are mandated to adhere to a gamut of operational obligations and uphold stringent post-licensing regulatory standards. These measures are designed to underpin the stability and reliability of financial services provision, safeguard consumer interests, and uphold the integrity of the overarching financial framework.

Integral to these obligations are the formulation and implementation of robust internal mechanisms and policies aimed at efficacious risk management, meticulous compliance with reporting and monitoring imperatives, and unwavering adherence to extant legislation.

Internal risk management protocols and policies

Licensed EMIs in Malta are enjoined to devise and enact comprehensive internal procedures and policies geared towards managing an array of operational risks. This encompasses the mitigation of financial and operational hazards, as well as the mitigation of perils associated with money laundering, terrorist financing, data protection, and cybersecurity.

These measures necessitate the formulation of clear and exhaustive contingency plans encompassing diverse adverse scenarios, inclusive of financial tumult, technical glitches, information security breaches, and other internal and external threats. Central to this endeavour is not only the inception of these protocols but also their periodic revision and alignment with evolving market dynamics and technological advancements, necessitating continual monitoring and risk assessment.

Reporting and monitoring imperatives

EMIs in Malta are obligated to maintain meticulous records of all financial transactions and furnish regular reports to the MFSA. This encompasses the submission of annual financial statements, regulatory compliance reports, and internal audit reviews. Moreover, EMIs must conduct ongoing surveillance of their transactions to detect and report any suspicious activities to competent authorities.

Sustaining regulatory compliance

To ensure sustained adherence to regulatory mandates, EMIs must vigilantly monitor alterations in legislation and regulatory practices, and adjust internal policies and procedures commensurately. This encompasses the periodic review and enhancement of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies, bolstering of cybersecurity measures, and fortification of risk management systems.

Furthermore, EMIs must conduct routine internal and external audits to gauge the efficacy of their management frameworks regarding risks and regulatory compliance. In instances wherein deficiencies or infractions are identified, companies are duty-bound to promptly rectify them and forestall recurrence.

Employee training

A pivotal facet in upholding compliance pertains to the provision of regular training to employees encompassing compliance, risk management, and anti-money laundering protocols. Such initiatives serve to bolster staff awareness and proficiency in these domains, thereby fortifying the institution's overall compliance posture.

Potential challenges and complexities

Regulatory review process:

 the MFSA's audit and review process entails meticulous scrutiny of the applicant's operations, financial stability, and internal procedures. Responding to inquiries and providing additional information as requested by regulatory authorities can prolong the licensing timeline and introduce uncertainty into the process.


Malta's burgeoning fintech sector has attracted a growing number of applicants vying for EMI licenses, intensifying competition among prospective licensees. Distinguishing oneself from competitors and demonstrating unique value propositions may pose challenges in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Evolving regulatory landscape:

fintech regulations and industry standards are subject to continual evolution, necessitating ongoing monitoring and adaptation to ensure continued compliance. Keeping abreast of regulatory changes and adjusting internal policies and procedures accordingly can pose challenges for EMI licence holders.

In light of these challenges, seeking professional guidance from experienced legal and regulatory advisors can facilitate the EMI licensing process in Malta and mitigate potential hurdles. Additionally, conducting thorough due diligence and strategic planning can enhance the likelihood of successful licensure and long-term viability in the Maltese fintech ecosystem.

Malta has emerged as a pivotal hub for EMIs, courtesy of its strategic positioning and supportive regulatory framework. The EMI landscape within this enclave harbours substantial potential for further expansion and evolution, furnishing unprecedented avenues for innovation and business scaling across Europe. IQ Decision extends professional assistance across all facets of EMI licensing in Malta, empowering enterprises to deftly navigate regulatory intricacies and realize their commercial objectives.