New Generation of Financial Supervision
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European supervisory institutions have, over recent years, recommended that Malta sharpens its supervisory tools, integrates its efforts, and intensifies its regulatory oversight of the growing number of financial institutions in Malta. The IMF’s Malta Mission Report published last week recognises the progress already achieved. The MFSA has placed the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing as one of its strategic priorities. Significant work has been carried out on this front and I am outlining what has been done and is currently ongoing at the MFSA, focusing mainly on [a] governance of supervision; [b] supervisory programmes; [c] due diligence; and [d] resources.
Recent organisational restructuring brought together all pillars of supervision to ensure one coordinated reporting line for all supervisory functions, integrating AML/CFT oversight into all regulatory and supervisory monitoring and decisions, during the entire lifecycle of our supervised entities.
An all-inclusive approach has been adopted to identify and understand the vulnerabilities, risks and threats to the financial system better. This is employed at the authorisation stage, where the MFSA verifies if applicants are fit and proper, and whether the business plan and operating model provide adequate safeguards and mitigation mechanisms. Despite COVID-19, we have continued with our on-site and offsite plans. We are meeting our supervisory targets by devising and employing technology and new data-gathering tools, for remote inspections, discussed with our peers in other member states facing similar challenges. No postponements are planned, unless the specific circumstances require it, allowing MFSA staff to reach ambitious supervisory targets by the end of the year. Strengthening supervisory engagement will increase enforcement action substantially, and, with it, our supervisory effectiveness and efforts to deter and address regulatory breaches. The new Enforcement Directorate established by the Authority will ensure that such cases are handled efficiently and effectively.
A continuously updated and rigorous fit and proper assessment is a key focus of the Authority’s pre- and post-licensing procedures. Improvements continue to be made for the due diligence process to become more intelligence-based, data-driven and more efficient.
Raising standards requires adequate resources, and this is particularly key in terms of supervision and adequate coverage of licensed entities. The staff complement continues to be strengthened at the Authority. The compliance functions alone, by the end of the year, will see their staff numbers grow by 45per cent over the last two years. We have invested not only in numbers but also in terms of expertise and methodology, through the insourcing of a team of international AML/CFT experts and new professionals alongside our permanent teams. Proper financial supervision requires up-to-date technical expertise for the attainment of the high-level objectives of regulation. The capacity-building exercise to broaden skill sets and address gaps in technical, enforcement and supervisory resources, through a comprehensive training programme, is ongoing. The MFSA will be launching its Financial Supervisors Academy to train young and upcoming supervisors and give experienced professionals the opportunity to further their technical knowledge. The MFSA has embarked on a €12m technological transformation programme implemented over three years. With new investments in IT solutions, knowledge management tools and supervisory automation systems, including business intelligence tools, our technology strategy places formal data governance and centralised data management at its core to support a data-driven supervisory approach.
We are not done with implementing our plan to enhance and right-size our supervisory function. The huge inroads we have made have also been recognised by the business community and our international counterparts. We are aware that combatting money laundering and terrorist financing is mission-critical to the security and integrity of our financial system and that sustainable growth and financial supervision is a key element of the overall framework to address the abuse of the financial system by criminals. And we remain committed to delivering just that.
e-Commerce and COVID-19 – Pushing Digital Transformation to the Front Line
As businesses make significant interventions in response to COVID-19, they are rapidly adjusting to the changing consumer behaviours whilst navigating financial and operational changes. How valuable is it today to have an online presence? One might argue it is vital at the moment for businesses to survive. This pandemic has forced businesses to have a look at e-Commerce and never again underestimate its benefits. This is a well of opportunities for businesses and the technology sector alike, a win-win situation.
People are coming to terms with the realities of our interconnected world and how difficult it is to temporarily separate connections to others. It’s clear that this pandemic will drastically impact societies for months, probably years. Businesses across all industries have been forced to innovate and digitally transform on an unprecedented basis to ensure continuity. This is definitely a wake-up call for businesses that have excessively focused on the daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital solutions and long-term resilience. As consumers are turning to digital platforms to purchase goods and services they might have otherwise purchased in person, businesses are being forced to evaluate how effective their systems are to ensure they are in a position to anticipate and react to the growing demands of the market. COVID-19 has undeniably highlighted the value of technology, however, despite digital transformation being a crucial factor to survive this new reality, it remains relatively difficult to achieve, and lack of preparedness is likely to hinder its development. In a fiercely competitive environment, investing in e-Commerce is now more important than it has ever been.
Agility, flexibility and mobility are crucial for survival. Businesses must rise to the challenge by being innovative and maximise on the use of digital tools. The key is to recognise the potential threats, while capitalising on all the possibilities.
I take the opportunity to thank our local Technology sector, which is steadily becoming one of the largest segments of our economy. Technology in Malta has proven to be a dominant feature of our economic landscape, and it is because of this that the island’s digital ecosystem is healthy and flourishing
— Dana Farrugia
CEO - Tech.mt
The mission of Tech.mt revolves around the fundamental principle of assisting the technology sector. Developing and launching a website or online store is now extremely simple. Fortunately, there are a wide range of easily deployable and customisable e-Commerce platforms available that can all handle online sales. Specialised software can automate targeted email campaigns, and the wide range of social communication platforms available can provide the tools and ability to reach out to an extremely large, potentially global audience, giving businesses a competitive edge. We are committed to offering the necessary support services to take your business from offline to online and ensure that the challenges involved in digital transformation are reduced. It is our privilege to set the key milestones you need to benefit from the best online practices, whilst guiding you to choose the right strategies to sell through multiple sales channels and take your business global.
We encourage anyone who is interested, to contact us to further explore our services.