[WATCH] Crypto venture capitalist Tim Draper says Malta ‘nailing it’ with blockchain strategy

While most countries were attempting to incorporate blockchain technology into an ‘existing bureaucratic model Draper said Malta had the foresight to develop a framework from the ground up

From left to right: Tim Draper, Tugce Ergul, Silvio Schembri and Abdalla Kablan
From left to right: Tim Draper, Tugce Ergul, Silvio Schembri and Abdalla Kablan

The US venture capital investor Tim Draper has commended the Maltese government for its approach towards blockchain technology, insisting that Malta now had a head start on a technological sector that would eventually be bigger than the internet.

Draper, together with parliamentary secretary for digital innovation Silvio Schembri and Angel Labs founder Tugce Ergul took part in a panel discussion moderated by technologist Abdalla Kablan to launch Delta Summit which be held in Malta between the 3 and 5 October and which is meant to bring to together the budding sector’s foremost thought leaders and innovators.  

He said that while most countries were attempting to fit the technology into existing bureaucratic models, Malta had gotten engineers together and developed a framework that was tailor-made for the technology.  

“You’re nailing it,” he said, adding that more countries needed to adopt Malta’s approach and quickly move to embrace the technology.

“Other countries are like big huge boats that find it difficult to turn, but smaller countries can do so a lot quicker,” he said, echoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s mantra that Malta needed to capitalise on its small size and agility in capitalising on new opportunities.

His venture capital firm, Draper Associates, has invested in Tesla, Skype, Baidu and many other companies.

Draper is a firm believer in the potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology behind them and made headlines in 2014 when he purchased nearly 30,000 bitcoins - estimated to be worth some $19 million at the time - which had been seized from the Silk Road market place website by US authorities.  

Read more: Malta inches closer to being first country with blockchain legislation 

He stressed that blockchain could revolutionise sectors, like government, that tended to offer bad services, and which could benefit from having a virtual layer of governance.

Ergul, whose investor accelerator educates potential investors across the globe about angel investing, said she often recommended Malta to people she met and that she would also be setting up her own fund in Malta.  

Proud to have created a blueprint for Europe 

Schembri said that upon being re-elected in June, the government had immediately set about fulfilling its pledge to establish Malta as the blockchain island and had set up a taskforce to plot the way forward.

These efforts, he said, had led the government to consider the technology in a holistic manner and had resulted in three laws being drafted to regulate the sector. He said the three bills were now in their second reading in parliament and that he hoped that they would be law by mid-June.

Above all, Schembri said Malta’s progress in the field was down to Muscat’s vision, and the fact that the members of the present administration thought more like entrepreneurs than a government.

He described Malta’s legislation as a blueprint for the rest of Europe because it provided some much-needed certainty for countries looking to succeed in the field.

"Serious operators we spoke to always emphasised the need for consumer protection, market integrity and investor protection, and these are the three pillars the bills are built on," Schembri said.

Malta’s leaders among the ‘most forward thinking on the planet’

In recorded video message, the founder and CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao – the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange which recently relocated to Malta – said he had chosen the country because it offered “legal clarity”.

He said the bill protected investors while also encouraging innovation, describing Malta’s “leaders” as some of “smartest and most forward-thinking people on the planet”

“They are very reasonable and very approachable, and they work as hard as entrepreneurs.”  

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