Following Malta’s greylisting between 2021 and 2022, the iGaming industry on the island has been faced with substantial banking challenges. To gain valuable insights into this issue, we had the opportunity to speak with Joonas Karhu, CEO of the award-winning affiliate company, Bojoko. His personal experience with the obstacles encountered by business in Malta makes him a valuable resource of knowledge.
Can you tell us about the challenges that Bojoko has faced with banking in Malta?
The challenges with banking in Malta have been a significant issue for companies in the iGaming industry. The greylisting of Malta in 2021 led to major banks, including Bank of Valletta (BOV), to close their accounts for iGaming companies, which caused significant problems for us. Despite Bojoko only partnering with licensed businesses and undergoing yearly audits, our bank account with BOV was suddenly closed after a ten-year relationship. This sudden action had a severe impact on our business, and we were forced to rely on less reputable banks, limiting our growth potential and making it difficult to trust these banks with substantial amounts of money.
What led to the challenges that Bojoko has faced with banking in Malta?
I believe the major obstacle for Bojoko and other iGaming companies in Malta has been the country’s placement on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list due to concerns about financial crime. As a result, financial institutions operating in Malta, especially those linked with the iGaming industry, were subjected to increased scrutiny. This led to banks in Malta becoming more cautious about partnering with iGaming companies, making it more difficult for businesses like Bojoko to find reliable banking partners.
How do these challenges affect the iGaming industry in Malta as a whole?
Malta has been a hub for the iGaming industry for many years, but the banking challenges in recent years have posed significant problems for companies operating in this sector. The challenges faced by the iGaming sector have had a considerable impact on the industry, forcing companies to resort to less reputable banks. Such banks are viewed with scepticism, and as a result, businesses cannot keep significant sums of money in their accounts. This presents a significant challenge to the industry, hindering the growth and development prospects of companies.
What steps do you believe need to be taken to address these challenges?
As a company operating in the iGaming industry in Malta, we strongly believe that the government and regulators must work collaboratively to tackle the banking challenges that our industry is facing. It’s crucial to create a stable and reliable banking environment that allows us to operate and expand our business without limitations. While we understand the concerns raised by the FATF, it’s essential to take practical steps to combat financial crime while ensuring that legitimate businesses like ours have access to reliable banking partners. Although Malta was removed from the FATF grey list in 2022, we have not seen any significant improvements in our ability to access reliable banking partners. We hope to see positive changes in the near future to enable the iGaming industry in Malta to thrive.
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