FinancialGuy Writes!

Malta Blockchain Summit 2018

This week saw Malta play host to a second cryptocurrency related event. The first, Delta Summit, was only a few weeks ago and the Maltese legislation is only a few months old.

For me, the contrast between the two events was quite striking and I cannot quite explain what or why this has happened. What was clear to me was the the two events seemed to play host to two different types of participant.

Firstly, most of this week’s exhibitors seemed to be exchanges. This seems like a very good thing. In the traditional economy, every country has multiple banks and brokerages providing market access to investors. Crypto does not really have that infrastructure at this point. Of course there are exchanges, but the biggest have gone global and there are not really all that many of them. Or to put that another way, such a lot of liquidity through such a small number of exchanges is a form of centralisation – precisely what crypto is trying to break.

Secondly, I saw and spoke to several people that are involved in the new tokenisation of assets space. Even just one month ago, I saw none of this at Delta Summit. In case this is new to you, the concept is that an asset – let’s say a shopping mall or a sports stadium – can be sold to investors who buy digital tokens that are secured on a blockchain. Anyone who (understandably) complains that crypto is “just hot air” will soon need to change their tune when tokens are backed by real world assets and their income streams. This section of the blockchain space will soon create whole new asset classes, funds and opportunities for investors.

Malta Blockchain Summit was organised by the team behind SIGMA, a large annual gaming conference, and their experience showed. The evening entertainment was much more in line with the gambling space than financial services and the set up just felt slightly different.

This conference also seemed to be a little different for networking. I met several people that I would describe as “next level”, genuine business powerplayers, that I would not normally expect to meet in Malta or at a conference here. It is entirely possible that they were at Delta, but our paths crossed this time.

What is still obviously lacking though is true blockchain expertise in Malta. There were many local businesses with a presence and Maltese speakers and panelists, but true expertise will take time for Malta to develop. Whatever my thoughts, Malta is really trying to plant a flag in the crypto space and for now at least, it appears to have grasped the opportunity to be the EU’s leading location and perhaps second in Europe behind Switzerland.

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