Malta eyeing artificial intelligence regulatory framework

The Prime Minister said that after having introduced a comprehensive legal framework regulating digital ledger technologies, it was only natural for Malta to turn its attention to Artificial Intelligence

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said it was only natural for Malta to turn its attention to Artificial Intelligence
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said it was only natural for Malta to turn its attention to Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things and a best-in-class regulatory framework are next on the government’s agenda, following the successful introduction of the world’s first comprehensive set of blockchain laws, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning. 

Muscat was addressing attendees at the Delta Summit where he focused on blockchain and its uses and said it was only natural for Malta to turn its attention to AI, as that too would soon come to play a major role in people’s daily lives. 

He said that the government’s plan had been to introduce the best possible legal framework to regulate digital ledger technology (DLT) because it was evident that the technology was growing exponentially and affecting many sectors. 

“We never had ambitions to be the first country to introduce blockchain legislation, we only wanted to make sure ours was the best framework,” he said. “We managed to achieve both and our blockchain legislation is the first and the best, not only in Europe, but also in the world. So welcome home.”

Delta Summit is the world’s first government-led event promoting blockchain and bringing together service providers, experts and public entities. 

More than 3,700 people from around the world are attending the summit, which will see 170 global players addressing conferences and panel discussions over these two days. 

Silvio Schembri, parliamentary secretary for innovation, said the summit would send a strong message to institutions worldwide. 

“We cannot stop change and should instead choose to embrace it if we want to benefit from the full potential of emerging technologies,” he said. 

Schembri said the new legislation, introducing the Malta Digital Innovation Act and a framework for virtual financial assets, would enable Malta to retain the lead in future technology regulation. 

Roberto Viola, director-general of the European Commission’s DG Connect, said he was very impressed with what Malta had done in terms of introducing legislation and a legal framework to regulate blockchain and cryptocurrencies. 

“For many years, the name of the game in the financial sector and in the legal and advisory services was all about trust and security,” he said. 

Viola said that blockchain was a game-changer, in that it provided the platform to ensure that trust and security remain at the heart of online transactions, whether contractual, financial or application-based. 

DLT would be at the heart of future products and services launched in Europe by public entities as well as private service providers. Before then, he said, it was important to develop a solid base to ensure blockchain technology will be able to cater for tens of thousands of transactions per second

Abdalla Kablan, executive chairman of Delta Summit and one of Malta’s foremost fintech experts, said the two-day event was the fulfilment of a vision and a dream. 

“That dream was allowed to make it to this memorable point only through the support of the Maltese government,” he said. “Prime minister Muscat gave us the will and the mandate to fulfil our vision.”

Kablan said that although technologists like himself tended not to like regulation, he and others had been welcomed in Malta and he was proud to have played a part in the new legislation the Maltese government launched recently. 

Such was the government’s commitment that the Malta Financial Services Authroity, Malta Communications Authority, Malta Information Technology Agency, Malta Gaming Authority and the new Malta Digital Innovation Authority were all represented at the summit besides numerous global power players in the industry.