The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, sets the stage for a new future of possibilities. In his speech at the opening of this year’s Delta Summit – Malta’s international conference featuring fintech startups, blockchain entrepreneurs and innovators in the crypto space – Muscat captures a movement that is uniting the world in ways that are more profound than the internet. It’s certainly not just about money. On the strength of cryptography, blockchain is challenging democratic norms and the authorities that centralize data and power. The digital economy that’s emerging will transform how we work and how we’re governed.
Muscat lays out why he believes the new tech is unstoppable.
“From Hong Kong to Helsinki, from Tokyo to Torino, from New York to Nairobi, it is quite rare that in meetings we attend, the same word elicits the same wide open, wide-eyed, expectant, curious and positive reaction. That word is blockchain.
That is the reaction I am pleasantly used to getting now. What is even better is that in all corners of the world, blockchain is now associated with another word, and that word is “Malta”. I am so proud of this.
Rewind to 2017. I vividly recall calling Silvio Schembri to my office and telling him that an essential part of his exciting new remit was to make Malta the first jurisdiction in Europe to have a comprehensive and sensible regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology. We were not the first out of the starting line. We had to make up for lost time and overtake competition. But, as in any race, the winner is not who starts first but who finishes best. Despite this intrinsic competitive spirit that we have as Maltese, it was clear to us from the start that we did not want to sacrifice quality in favor of expediency.
Choosing between being first and being best, we will always opt for the latter. In the case of the three pieces of legislation that form our innovative framework, we are both first and the best. I humbly submit, first and best not only in Europe, as we wanted to be, but in the world, where nobody expected us to be.
Many of you here today, for what is arguably the most important gathering of its nature ever worldwide, come from the fintech and the crypto scenes. This is good.
Nevertheless, to us it is clear that the underlying technology that we are regulating has many more uses, most of which have barely been understood, let alone harnessed and utilized. Most of the time, we realize that history has been made after events happen. We are fortunate enough to be living in an era when we are aware that change is happening and that we are part of it.
It goes without saying that this transition to the digital economy and society poses its challenges. It questions fundamental concepts that we have been used to for generations.
One of them is the nature of work itself, its compensation, its efficiency and its regulation. Those with a dim outlook will see this quantum leap as a threat because more machines will take the place of people, and this time around machines can learn.
Yes, the new digital economy requires new forms of social safety nets and a rethink of basic interactions. Nevertheless, not only can we not stop change, we have to embrace it with anticipation since it provides society with huge opportunities. To do so, the state needs to be proactive in its role as a sensible, business friendly and consumer centric regulator.
We intend leading the way there. That is why artificial intelligence and a sensible, best-in-class regulatory framework for it are now next on Malta’s agenda. We are sure that with AI we can replicate and improve what we are doing with blockchain.
We are moving nearer to the demise of business models based on the centralization of data. Blockchain, as you know, will increasingly give individuals more control. In an era where the basic democratic norms are being challenged even in their cradle, we are witnessing the birth of a system that can democratize technology. The tension of the citizens being caught between the two will become ever more evident, making it crucial for governments to get up to scratch with the rest of the digital economy and society.
We are here to make it happen. We are as eager as you are. We are as excited as you are. We want to hear from you about your next big idea. We want to know how we can help and how we can make it happen. So welcome home. Welcome to Malta. Welcome to the Blockchain Island. Thank you.”