Malta: Europe’s new innovation hub

‘Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change not only basic concepts, such as work, but also life as we know it,’ said Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat. Having already conquered a special position within the blockchain space, the Maltese government is now set on a mission to place Malta at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet-of-Things (IoT).

Fintech investments have been steadily growing over recent years, and Malta positions itself to snap up a large share. More than bringing innovation to obsolete financial systems, the advent of the fintech industry is increasing value in services, placing user benefit at the core of each product and contributing to a more connected society.

Understanding the potential of new disruptive technologies, the small but ambitious island is becoming a hub for technology innovation by seeking partnerships and developing friendly regulation.

Looking to the future and welcoming AI into its economy has the potential to take Malta’s economy to the next level. AI is set to become of the main drivers of multisector economic growth, improving customer experience in financial services, manufacturing and entertainment, among other fields.

“Now that the Blockchain-related laws are in effect, and our vision of making Malta The Blockchain Island is materialising, we can start looking at new economic niches, finding ways to incorporate them into our ecosystem. We want Malta to become a powerhouse of economic innovation. In the case of Artificial Intelligence, we believe that this holds a lot of opportunities that will benefit the entire country,”’ said Malta’s Junior Minister Silvio Schembri.

One of the main hurdles preventing fintech from growing even further are outdated regulations. Malta therefore hopes to attract investment by setting up a fintech-friendly business environment. It has already put in place a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain activities, becoming one of the leading crypto nations in Europe, and now hopes to replicate this success within the AI and IoT spaces.

The Maltese AI strategy aims to identify opportunities and key stakeholders to integrate AI with a view to boosting the country’s digital economy. Furthermore, Malta is working to provide the education, expertise and infrastructure necessary to support AI developments.

The recent Malta Blockchain Summit has been one of the most important events in the crypto space. The Summit gathered over 8,000 delegates and the biggest names from the global blockchain community, including John McAfee, and co-founder of IOHK Charles Hoskinson.

Block Commodities Chairman Chris Cleverly, City AM Crypto Insider James Boawter and of IOHK Founder Charles Hoskinson. “There are quite a few smart people on the block-train and a few very big brains driving. Only one of them actually gets Africa is the place where Blockchain will FIRST make a meaningful difference and ACTUALLY goes there. Great to hang with him in Malta and my long-time buddy the crypto journo for CityAM.” commented Chris Cleverly on his Linkeldn

The Summit was organised with the support of the Maltese government, and according to local sources has already been confirmed again for 2019.

One of the conference highlights was the official announcement of Malta’s AI strategy by ‘Sophia’: a humanoid robot capable of interpreting and understanding human language, as well as 60 different human expressions.

Much like blockchain, the official incorporation of AI technology into the Maltese economy points towards great progress in diverse areas such as health, education, transportation and logistics.

Following the success of the Blockchain Summit and the launch of strategies on AI and IoT, Malta establishes itself as a leading innovation and fintech hub in Europe.

“There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are the two most-discussed disruptive technologies in the last years, which are set to disrupt the the tech and business paradigm in a big way over the next decade. In many ways, the two are conceptual opposites: AI, which reached its peak in 2016–2017, is very much centralised and closed; whereas blockchain, which boomed a year later, powers open-source decentralised systems. However, the future is the intersection and integration of both. Their combined power is huge: maximising scalability security, transparency and decentralisation, and efficiency via fully decentralised AI marketplace networks, and decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO). A new paradigm is taking shape.“ commented Stefania Barbaglio director at Cassiopeia Services, leading PR agency in the blockchain space.

Fintech: Boosting economies and markets in Europe

Fintech has created systems which are faster, cheaper and more convenient than their predecessors, challenging industries to innovate and improve their services and products. The merging of financial services and technology has birthed the fintech industry, one of the fastest-growing markets in recent years, which is not only improving financial services but also spurring economic growth and development in many parts of the world.

Fintech has been an unstoppable force over the last few years. So far in 2018, the market has already accumulated $41.7billion — up from $39.4bn in 2017, already a record year for fintech investment around the globe.

As tech startups gear up to reshape the future of finance, investors and venture capitalists move to join the movement. The impressive growth in fintech has led venture capitalists from all parts of the world to join the fintech boom and invest substantially in innovative projects, with investment in fintech companies up 41% over the last four years, according to PwC’s data.

“Innovation is disrupting financial services and opening up new opportunities and experiences to facilitate transactions and promote financial inclusion. The leading companies in fintech are those which develop technologies with strong use cases,” says Stefania Barbaglio.