SPEECH BY DANA FARRUGIA, CEO OF TECH.MT, DELIVERED DURING A JOINT EVENT BY THE MALTA COUNCIL FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND DATA DEAR – FRIDAY 23RD OCTOBER 2020
Thank you for inviting me to witness the launch of this new service by a local development company that has benefitted from research grants by MCST. It is a great privilege to be here with you today.
For Tech.MT, the agency tasked with promoting and cultivating Malta’s technology and ICT sector, these new collaborations are an important step forward. The current challenges have accelerated the need for us to transform, change, and reinvent ourselves for the future, so that we can emerge stronger.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has created new opportunities for digital financial services to accelerate and enhance financial inclusion, amid social distancing and containment measures. At the same time, the risks emerging prior to COVID-19, as digital financial services developed, are becoming even more relevant. It is even more important for us, as public service agencies tasked with promoting research, innovation and technology to focus on supporting the local and fast-growing fintech sector.
Fintech is best defined technologically enabled financial innovation that could result in new business models, applications, processes or products with an associated material effect on financial markets and institutions and the provision of financial services. Fintech can be seen as having three main parts to it; the fintech activities; the enabling technologies and the policy enablers.
Today, we are witnessing a concrete example of enabling technologies for FinTech. DataDear, a solution developed by local company Scope, and which has benefitted from research grants by MCST, shows the power of APIs and the possibilities of cloud computing. Used by over 5,000 professionals around the world, DataDear should be a key example and testament to Malta’s potential in developing such enabling technologies. We are today home to a well-diversified technology sector that has developed numerous enabling technologies for FinTech and have opened their products and services to the global community.
Our economy continues to attract such companies and we are eager to continue attracting more. We believe in our potential of becoming a technology hub that can attract development companies to build, test and roll-out such enabling technologies. We have a healthy ecosystem with the right talent pool required for such companies. Our collaboration with our educational institutions such as the University of Malta and MCAST are also important elements in our strategy. Collaborating with government entities such as MCST also allows us to promote and support research & development projects and I would like to congratulate MCST for its work and success in supporting numerous companies, especially technology ones, in their R&D efforts. Also, Malta Enterprise continues to support local and international companies to set-up in Malta through a host of incentives, tax credits, cash grants and office space.
In order to truly enable fintech development and technology companies to develop their products in Malta, we need to continue strengthening the policy enablers especially in relation to innovation. It is therefore welcoming to see specific incentives towards innovation in this year’s budget together with the launch of a venture capital fund framework. This will further strengthen access to finance for start-ups and will play a key part in building the ecosystem. The National Digital Strategy that will be launched in the coming months will also provide more direction to this important sector. In addition, the regulatory stance being taken by the Malta Financial Services Authority in relation to financial services regulation is also important including the regulatory sandboxes.
The fintech ecosystem powered by Malta’s technology sector is healthy and vibrant. It also has the power to continue attracting companies to Malta and to create economic value and employment opportunities. It is good to note that in the first half of the year, the technology sector was one of three sectors that positively contributed to the economy despite COVID-19.
As Tech.MT we remain committed to promoting and supporting companies in this sector. We are today hand-holding companies in different industries including IoT, AI, blockchain and software development companies. The interest is there, and we are determined to continue building Malta’s technology ecosystem; including the fintech one.
Today we are not only celebrating the fintech ecosystem.
We are today celebrating the endeavours of a Maltese company, Scope, that believed in its vision and idea of DataDear.
We are celebrating the tangible benefits of supporting research and innovation by Government that is leading to product development, employment and economic activity.
We are also celebrating the talent of our workforce and students that are building products used all over the world.
Above all, we are celebrating technology and its continued importance to Malta’s economy.