Malta’s Financial Services Authority’s (MFSA) cryptocurrency exam for financial practitioners has returned some unexpected results with a disappointing 39% pass rate.

The questions set by the MFSA were in accordance with Malta’s latest legislation, the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA), which requires financial practitioners wishing to move into cryptocurrency to gain agent certification through a pass in the new exam.

Clearly, the government hadn’t expected such poor results, particularly given late changes to questions to make them more manageable for examinees. This now means that 61% are unable to make the move from careers such as accountancy, auditing, and law. The 250 candidates sat a multiple-choice paper which was simplified towards the end when examiners noticed that the responses were going to result in a poor pass rate, but despite this, only 39% managed to get through the paper successfully with a pass-grade.

The new legislation is part of Malta’s drive to becoming Europe’s hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain. The exam was intended as a first move towards ensuring companies offering ICOs or portfolio management services in the future would have someone on staff who had a high degree of crypto competence with certified credentials.

Malta’s Digital Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri would be dismayed by the outcome of this first set of accreditation examinees, particularly given the sentiments of a recent speech at this year’s Delta Summit 2018 Blockchain Conference:

“Malta will be the epicenter of the Blockchain industry. I invite stakeholders, operators within this space, investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators to be part of yet another exciting chapter for Malta and be part of the Blockchain Island.”

Having adequate skilled personnel will be an integral part of the country’s drive to raise its fintech profile. Schembri will hope that the recent EUR 300,000 blockchain scholarship partnership forged between the University of Malta and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) will be a more successful training programme for young aspirants transitioning from ICT, law, finance, and engineering.

Split over three years and starting this academic year, students can apply for the scholarship and start blockchain and DLT-related Masters and Ph.D. research dissertations. Of the courses, Schembri, said, “These companies need technical resources both to build and to operate by use of this technology, as well as experts in financial services, law, and managerial roles.”

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