1st and 2nd November 2018 were the dates of the first Malta Blockchain Summit, hosted in St Julians Malta. As Malta pushes hard in 2018 to live up to it’s self-appointed moniker of “The Blockchain Island”, events such as this are a must have.
I personally enjoyed large parts of the event, met and chatted with a number of interesting and experienced people and sat in to watch a few panel events. The Intercontinental Hotel was a good location, though on day one it really was busy, suggesting the level of interest in the space is very high.
Several of the event keynote speeches were from leading Maltese politicians, including the Prime Minister. Each was essentially giving a pitch as to why Malta is a “successful and vibrant economy that is open for business”. They know their lines and stuck to them.
In terms of stands, there were a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges present. The expansion of the exchange market provides greater liquidity and decentralisation – two things that crypto really needs. There were also a lot – perhaps eight – businesses that are offering blockchain solutions to the identification and KYC parts of the sector. Not long ago CIVIC launched to great fanfare into the ID space but it seems to be becoming a crowded market already. It is difficult to imagine that all of these projects can survive.
As is now de rigeur for these events, Malta Blockchain Summit hosted both an ICO pitch competition and a hackathon. Does anything ever really come from these things…?
The downside of an event like this is that there are a lot of attendees and businesses being represented that have no real place there. For example, there were a number of Maltese real estate agencies with stands. I understand why they would want to be there, touting for business from businesses that might need office space, but really, who cares…? We all know how to locate a real estate agent. Do we need them at a specialised event like this? In the same vein, there were many Maltese law firms and corporate services companies in attendance. I spoke with several people and only one of them had any actual experience in company formation for a crypto venture. Once again, I realise why they would want to attend and to try and find some new customers, but if they don’t yet know what they are doing, they ought not to be attending in my view.
All in all, the event was well located, hosted, organised and lays down a marker for the blockchain space that Malta wants to be a real player and build a real ecosystem. Time will tell how the market reacts.