All eyes are on Malta over the next few days as one of the most hotly anticipated events in the crypto and blockchain world kicks off later today. The event organizers told me that they are expecting over 5000 delegates with a raft of speakers that can claim to be the Who’s Who of this space.
I spoke with Eman Pulis, the summit’s chief organizer, and CEO on an exclusive basis where we shared various thoughts on how this event can be a game changer for Malta.
So why is Malta being called the Blockchain Island and what does this mean for the local economy?
‘Malta has put in the hard work to earn its title as the Blockchain Island. Government backing has created a haven for Crypto companies to flourish here in Malta. The legislative action which passed through parliament this summer has instigated a sense of security and stability, qualities which have lured some of the biggest companies in the industry to Malta. Top cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and OKEx have already relocated, with others sure to follow – bringing an abundance of investment and employment opportunities with them and potentially transforming the island’s infrastructure. The relocation of foreign companies is also a boon to other industries in Malta, such as the hospitality sector, particularly when it comes to avenues focusing on entertainment, leisure and real estate’.
Eman continued by reflecting that the Maltese parliament passed three regulatory bills in July this year, with the goal of driving innovation and setting up a regulatory framework for blockchain companies to operate within.
‘The Maltese government has been clear about its desire to turn Malta into a blockchain hub, and so far has been true to its word, offering support at all levels for the emerging technology to flourish. The response to the proposed regulation has been overwhelmingly positive – with the impact already being felt in terms of economic growth and development’.
There has been a lot of talk that the blockchain and gaming industries certainly can go together. With his background of organizing huge events for the gaming industry such as SiGMA, Pulis certainly has a grasp on what can be achieved with both industries merging together.
‘The gaming industry is a prime candidate for disruption. Diminished trust in the marketplace can lead down a path of segregated, centralized trading platforms with excessive trading fees. Fraud is also rife in the online virtual goods market, making values such as security and transparency essential for players creating profiles, including when buying, selling, or storing in-game assets. In light of this, SiGMA will, for the second year running, be hosting a blockchain conference for a high-level discussion of the emerging tech and its implications for iGaming’, Pulis added.
Pulis also believed that the legislation has definitely helped curate a positive energy amongst people from the Blockchain sphere, companies operating here or considering relocation have found a sense of security and welcome. At a government level, there’s a great willingness to embrace this technology and apply it in positive ways to the Maltese infrastructure. ‘There’s definitely a feeling of being inspired and wanting to get things done’, he says.
Finally, it looks like another area where Malta is going for it is the esports sector. What does Eman think of that?
‘It’s great to see incentives encouraging eSports companies to establish themselves in Malta; this can only be a positive thing for our economy. Malta has a lot to offer companies considering relocation, from good weather and excellent hospitality services to a solid regulatory framework’, Eman concludes.
The Summit has also attracted interest from other industries that overlap with and compliment block tech. Representing advancement in the AI sphere is the latest in humanoid robotics from Hanson Robotics – Sophia. Sophia will join her creator for a fireside chat during the Marketing and Investment conference.
Accolades include becoming the first ever robot to be granted citizenship anywhere in the world, as well as being named the world’s first United Nation Innovation Champion by the United Nations Development Program, where she will have a working role with UNDP to promote sustainable development and safeguard human rights and equality.
The Summit agenda also includes a Hackathon. Lured by a €50 thousand prize, 16 blockchain teams are already confirmed to compete. The Hackathon is backed by a number of sponsors, such as e Toro, Dao. Casino, Snips, and IOST. The competition will be mentored by industry luminaries such including John McAfee, Noam Eppel, Jimmy Zhong, and Mikhail Savchenko, amongst others.
An ICO Pitch is also on the books. 37 ICOs will bump elbows with 1000 investors in the Pitch room, before facing 18 savvy investors from the judging panel. The Pitch is partnered with d10e and comes with an impressive $ 100,000 prize pool.
The summit will be held on the 1st and 2nd of November at the Intercontinental Hotel, St Julian’s, Malta, and brings with it four conferences and a considerable expo floor. Highlights, apart from those already mentioned include a Blockchain Awards ceremony and a Crypto Cruise. Not a bad place to be, I guess.