Out of approximately 250 applicants, only 39% passed the agent verification exam, despite attempts being taken to increase the pass rate. This exam is required to provide practitioners the certification to act as cryptocurrency agents. This incident was reported on the 18th of October by the daily Times of Malta.
A cryptocurrency agent refers to any practitioners, such as lawyers, auditors, and accountants, who are certified to liaise with those in the cryptocurrency market. This includes companies launching Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).
The concept of a cryptocurrency agent was introduced by the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA), which takes action in November. Practitioners wishing to work within the field of cryptocurrency are required to become a certified agent. To do this, they would have to undergo a short training course then sit an exam, the first of which occurred in September.
Reportedly, around 250 applicants sat this exam, administered by the Institute of Financial Service Practitioners (IFSP). The multiple-choice test was graded via a negative marking scheme. When examiners saw how low the scores were, efforts were made to raise them by changing the marking scheme. Even after this, the pass rate rose only to 39%.
This does not bode well for the self-dubbed ‘blockchain island’. Cryptocurrency agents serve as the only legal liaison between the cryptocurrency economy and Malta. Companies cannot issue ICO’s without an approved agent. Business’ seeking to provide any kind of virtual financial service cannot do so without an agent. The low number of practitioners able to get their agent certification means it will be difficult for Malta to integrate crypto assets into its economy.
The MFSA issued a consultation paper in September, after this event. They propose a more rigorous assessment process and an increase in capital requirements and regulatory fees for continued professional education regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain.
The cryptocurrency agent plays a vital role within the established VFA framework. They protect the nation from the risks that cryptocurrency can bring. The bar to become one must be set appropriately.