Both ourselves and the international Media spoke a lot about Malta and the blockchain technology.
For the past few months, this small island on the Mediterranean Sea has been featured as one of the technology leaders in Europe with an appetite of becoming the Silicon Valley of Europe.
While the ambitions are high, the country definitely has an enormous potential with its talent pool and fantastic IT infrastructure. Despite being the smallest economy in the EU, Malta is truly becoming the IT hub of Europe.
So far, the Maltese government and the local entrepreneurs have expressed their interest in implementing the blockchain technology into the healthcare and land registry, as well as real estate.
Not long after Malta introduced the first Bitcoin ATM, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) issued a statement, warning about the use of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. The alert came without a surprise, as it resembled the reaction of the majority of financial institutions towards cryptocurrency and Bitcoin around the world.
Regardless of what the MFSA is saying, both cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are here to stay. And we rounded up for you the most important aspects of how and where Malta is planning to work with them.
What Is Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology as a concept isn’t new and revolutionary. Its origins are within basic human need of having a reassurance and trust during the exchange of goods.
Whether it’s money or physical objects, we always want to know that we won’t be a fraud victim and that our purchases will be delivered to a promised standard.
Hence, we have banks, lawyers and many other third party services that put a stamp on all our actions. It’s all to reassure us of the ingenuity of a transaction or a trade.
Currently, we put that trust into other individuals. Whether is an online review, notary or a financial advisor – we trust them. Yet, so many of those manage to fail us on everyday basis.
And this is precisely what blockchain technology tries to avoid – it confirms the legitimacy of transactions and goods’ exchange with a bulletproof security.
Because, it does it with the use of technology and math. Without relaying on human beings.
It works like a large database that stores all the data and history of objects, and people, and is openly available to anyone who’s a member of the network.
And nobody can commit a fraud or theft or lie. If this happens, everyone on the network would know and it would forever stay in one’s history.
Here are the areas, into which Malta is looking into in terms of blockchain technology:
Healthcare and Land Registry
In April 2017, Joseph Muscat spoke with an encouragement about Malta implementing blockchain technology in healthcare and land registry. The new system would help with improving Malta’s bureaucracy and the data keeping.
With the use of blockchain technology, all our medical records would be kept in a public ledger, instead of one computer or vintage file cabinet. Imagine the world, where moving to a different city or a country wouldn’t be associated with a lengthy paperwork. Your medical and dental history could be kept in one, extremely secure place.
In a similar way, buying a house would become a simpler and more convenient endeavour. Since every house and land would have a well-documented registry, with the ownership history, building details etc., you wouldn’t have to worry about shady sellers or defected buildings.
Instead, you get to focus on building what is really important – a house for your family.
In a recent interview with Malta Chamber, two of the biggest real estate entrepreneurs in Malta, Steve Mercieca from Zanzi Homes and Benjamin Grech from Engel & Völkers Sara Grech, pointed out that implementing blockchain technology has been something the property industry has been considering for years.
However, the only accessible data comes from their market share. If there was a nationwide database available, the dream could become reality.
These plans are closely related to Muscat’s aspirations and could bring more transparency to the real estate market. Buying and renting would mean having an access to the entire history of both parties.
Apart from keeping the records, the process of getting a mortgage and checking the credit history would be more efficient. Instead of hefty paperwork and security checks, individuals could create a digital ID for real estate assets.
The process could be shortened from months, in some cases, to minutes.
Malta has been a home to over 200 iGaming companies since 2004. With a huge success, the island established itself as a secure and regulated place for online casinos and sportsbooks.
The iGaming companies attracted a top talent from around the world – bringing specialists and experts in the financial and IT sector.
In a recently released White Paper, Joseph Cuschieri (Malta Gaming Authority) released a plan of legalising cryptocurrency gambling as soon as early 2018.
Combining the already established iGaming industry with an upcoming cryptocurrency revolution would strengthen Malta’s position on the European arena as a forward thinking economy.
Growing Bitcoin Community
In a country that still values cash above anything, it’s surprising to see an increase of Bitcoin lovers.
Malta’s and Gozo’s Bitcoin Club attracts almost 1,000 people who truly believe in the power of cryptocurrency.
With the number constantly growing, the group organises bi-monthly events with influential speakers from various sectors. It gives a networking opportunity and serves as a place to exchange the cryptocurrency experiences.
One of the drivers within the community is a local startup, Ivaja, which has just finished a crowd funding campaign to bring the second Bitcoin ATM to Malta.
The Future of Blockchain Technology in Malta
Joseph Muscat is very optimistic about becoming the European leader in blockchain technology, urging for “(…) the appropriate regulatory framework, the right tax system and the best infrastructure to support this ambition.”
This small land is full of controversies, hence it’s impressive to see that a country with so many traditional values is so welcoming in terms of new technologies.
Because, if there’s one thing that Malta has understood is that blockchain technology, together with cryptocurrency, are already here. Whether we want it or not, the change has already started.
So we could try fighting it and deny the future. But that won’t take us far. If anything, we will eventually fall behind and will start following others.
And the more we keep on ignoring the technological advancement that blockchain is driving, the more of a price we will have to pay in the future.
How long will it take Malta to get to the leader’s level? Judging by the intensive research phase and impressive community movement, we should start seeing the first changes in late 2018.
If you’re interested in learning more about cryptocurrency and want to meet people who share the same interest, follow a local blockchain Meetup Group. It already has over 100 followers and it’s constantly growing. You could also bring your ideas and advice on board on their Facebook page or join the group for a drink!
What are your thoughts on Malta and the blockchain technology? Share it with us in the comments below and don’t forget to check our Facebook for regular updates!