The Malta Independent 16 June 2019, Sunday

‘Make Malta an Island home for tech innovation’ - Roberta Metsola

Friday, 2 November 2018, 18:02 Last update: about 9 months ago

In a keynote speech at the Malta Blockchain Summit, MEP Roberta Metsola outlined her vision for Malta and Gozo as the tech islands of the future.

Metsola, who has worked on Blockchain on a European level, rallied for increased public spending on both traditional and digital infrastructure saying, “Malta and Gozo may well be the Blockchain islands, but what I want to see Malta becoming the tech destination of choice for the future. We have the ideal environment and we can create an island home for digital innovation, invention, and allow a safe haven for new industries to develop aided and protected by avant-guard legislation and policy decisions. But to do that we have to match the fantastic enthusiasm I’ve seen today with massive public investment in both traditional and technological infrastructure and maintain the right regulatory ambition we need for this sector to grow.” 


She made the case for Malta saying “As an archipelago in the middle of a vast sea, Malta and Gozo has always had to put innovation at the forefront of our economic policy. We have harnessed emerging technologies to create new spheres of economic growth, we got it right with Maritime, gaming and of course financial services.  We grew because we realised the potential that these sectors had to offer and we used our size to our advantage to move quickly and expertly.

Metsola said that while Distributed Ledger Technology, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Cryptocurrencies are revolutionsing the way business is conducted, she urged participants to engage with the public and to ensure that law enforcement’s money-laundering concerns are addressed She underlined “that this new, misunderstood, system must not create new dark-nets of anonymity to allow new places for criminals to hide ill-gotten wealth.”

She praised the Maltese legislative framework passed in the Summer underscoring that she Malta to “be ready to understand and reap all the benefits that DLT and Blockchain have to offer. The new legislation passed by Malta’s Parliament in summer is a good step forward as is the setting up of a new Malta Digital Innovation Authority, tasked with overseeing businesses in sector, but we have to remain adaptable and we have to remain on our toes. We have to continue to diversify, to breathe new life into our economies and to facilitate the creation of new ones.”

Underscoring the importance of targeted regulation, Metsola said “In the European Parliament I have become weary of overzealous, sometimes unnecessary, regulation that serves to stifle innovative concepts. For Blockchain, Artificial intelligence and so much more we must make sure that we do not go down the road of regulation for regulations sake. The maxim that a good headline does not always mean a good law remains true. We must have the right type of regulation, targeted, specific legislation, and we must have it at the right time. Too soon and we risk jumping the gun, too late and we risk being totally left behind.” 

Metsola said that the overriding focus on these issues must always remain on unleashing all the potential of new technologies while strengthening safeguards and allaying people’s fears.


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