Ferratum Bank welcomes Malta’s drive to embrace fintech

During visit to Ferratum Bank’s new offices, the Prime Minister says that Malta’s ‘paper-based’ financial services regulator will transition to a digital platform

Joseph Muscat visited the new offices of Ferratum Bank: looking on are (from left to right) MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Ferratum Bank founder Jorma Jokela
Joseph Muscat visited the new offices of Ferratum Bank: looking on are (from left to right) MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Ferratum Bank founder Jorma Jokela

The Malta Financial Services Authority is passing through a “digital revolution” as it transitions to a more efficient digital platform, the Prime Minister said.

While placing his trust in the authority, which he said had always done its job well, Joseph Muscat said the watchdog’s business processes were “paper based” and this created backlog.

“The MFSA is passing through a digital revolution as it strives to become more efficient and help encourage innovation in the financial services sector,” Muscat said.

He was answering a question about the regulator’s preparedness to act as a strong supervisor for a growing and changing financial services sector.

“Estimates and tenders are being processed by the MFSA as it transitions to online-based business processes that will help it become more efficient and offer better surveillance,” Muscat said.

The MFSA came under fire over the past year over its handling of Pilatus Bank amid allegations of money laundering. The watchdog eventually came down hard on the Ta’ Xbiex-based bank earlier this year when the American authorities arrested bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad and accused him of breaching Iran sanctions.

Muscat visited the new offices of Ferratum Bank in Gżira. The bank was fined by the MFSA for regulatory breaches last April over shortcomings noted two years earlier.

“I am informed that the authority is satisfied with Ferratum that did a lot of work to rectify the situation,” the Prime Minister said.

Ferratum, which is headquartered in Finland, was founded in 2005 by Jorma Jokela. It obtained a banking licence in Malta in 2012.

It operates in 25 markets in Europe, North America, Brazil, Mexico, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific area.

The Maltese branch moved into its new offices at the ST Business Centre in Gżira last May and employs more than 300 people, offering online and mobile banking services to an array of customers across different countries. The bank also offers microloans and savings options.

Former finance minister Tonio Fenech is a non-executive director of the bank, along with former Bank of Valletta CEO, Charles Borg.

Jokela said Malta was playing an increasingly important role in fintech, which is why the bank had strengthened its position in the country.

Parliament passed three laws just before the summer recess to regulate innovative block chain technologies and cryptocurrencies.

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