The Future of FinTech in Malta

Four experts assessed Malta’s FinTech ecosystem in a recent webinar. Trends and opportunities for the sector post-Covid-19 were a key theme. We curated the highlights to bring you an overview of the discussion.

How attractive is Malta as a FinTech hub? This was the main question that four experts discussed during a recent FinanceMalta webinar. The webinar was initiated by FinanceMalta member RiskDeck and moderated by Ian Gauci, Managing Partner of GTG Advocates. The event explored the Maltese FinTech ecosystem and provided information on how Fintech operations can settle in Malta, as well as the challenges and opportunities offered by the jurisdiction. The webinar also provided an EU and international perspective and included a discussion on the future of FinTech in Malta and its role in the development of the industry.

Here are the key takeaways from the event:
Cross-Border Sandboxing

The FinTech sector has seen remarkable growth over the past few years, and across the world sandboxes have become a tool for fintech innovation. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) launched its FinTech Regulatory Sandbox in 2020, explained Herman Ciappara, Head of FinTech Supervision at the MFSA. FinTech service providers and FinTech suppliers, including start-ups, technology firms and established financial services providers using technology-enabled innovations, are allowed to test their innovations in a safe and regulated environment. This allows the MFSA to understand new products and solutions and identify any risks that may be associated with it, Ciappara said. However, there is another important element in the MFSA’s FinTech strategy, he said. “We are currently working on establishing international links. The idea is to offer cross-border sandboxing, whereby FinTechs have access to multiple markets.” He also mentioned that it would be relatively straightforward to align Malta’s Virtual Financial Assets Act with the EU’s proposed Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation, with both being largely based on the MiFID II framework.

A Start-up Location

James Camilleri, Co-Fonder and CEO of Fyorin, said that it’s not easy to attract talent to Malta, but he added that the shortage of tech talent is a global problem and FinTechs located elsewhere are finding it equally hard to source the right candidates. “When it comes to funding, we are behind larger countries such as the UK and France. We do not have many venture capitalists or super angel investors. However, funding is just one important element for start-ups”, he said. In fintech, you want to build fast, validate your proposition, launch the product and get feedback before you scale it up. “Malta is the right place to do just that,” he said. He also highlighted Malta’s proximity to North African countries, where fintech is flourishing. In his opinion, Malta is a good stepping stone to these markets.

Ease of Doing Business

Lucas Maliczak, Head of Development at RiskDeck, commented: “I do believe that Malta needs to foster more local tech talent.” He thinks this, in turn, will draw more foreign talent and companies. In order to attract new fintech companies to Malta, Maliczak also mentioned the need to make doing business easy. “We need to simplify the onboarding of tech companies, for instance by offering quick access to banking, VAT numbers and the like.”

Talent Attraction

Dimitris Litsikakis, CEO of deVere E-Money, also emphasised that fintech companies setting up in Malta should not have a local mindset, it needs to be European, if not global, from the start. “The vision of the founders needs to be ambitious enough to attract both talent and funding.” He also said that Covid-19 has changed the way the world works. Remote working has become the new norm. This also means location is no longer a valid excuse for a lack of talent. “If you have a product and a story to tell, talent will follow”, he said. He added that “Malta has amazing entrepreneurs, and it’s always possible to work with external advisors. This is a way to bring expertise in where it’s lacking.”

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