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Not everyone has a choice when trying something new: you might have been made redundant, ended up in another country, got divorced, lost your investment or just had a midlife crisis. But something new does not always come neatly packaged and labelled as an opportunity. It could be a job with a much lower salary, a business which requires a loan, working hours that will affect your lifestyle, or even a move to a completely new country. Leaving your comfort zone is one of the hardest things to do. That zone is something that you have earned the hard way, and one which has taken years to carve out for yourself. Leaving it behind can feel as though the effort getting there has all been wasted, that we are going to eject prematurely, before we have reaped all the benefits. The questions are nagging: “What if…” The theme of new beginnings is a truly inspirational one, as you will see various times in this issue. There is nothing more refreshing – and terrifying – than getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. There are as many examples as there as sayings and memes, from learning to fly on your way down, to having learnt something even if the experiment fails. The comfort zone is exactly what it says: it is comfortable in the way that old jeans and worn sneakers are. They may not be the latest fashion, but there are no surprises, no parts that chafe. They may not take your breath away when you catch sight of yourself, but neither do they look terrible viewed from a different angle. We are constantly bombarded with opportunities which we fail to even notice. If we are not open to the idea of change, of trying something new, then we cruise happily and contentedly along. That is what makes entrepreneurs different: they have a restlessness in their make-up which means they are at some subconscious level always assessing what goes on around them. And they act on it, just as Mark Zuckerberg when he set up a simple way of checking out who was hot and who was not.

When weighing up that leap, you want to know what lies ahead. You want to know whether you dream will materialise, whether you will succeed, whether it will make money. The unknown is not the dark that scared you as a child but a very real dilemma, especially when you have responsibilities and commitments. For many people, especially in the early phases of their life, failure is truly not an option.


Yet how many of us look back to the beginning of the journey which brought us to that comfort zone? Did it really go as planned? Had we foreseen how quickly or slowly things would happen? How many times did we compromise or settle for less, all in the name of ‘stability’?


When Speed is of the Essence

A new beginning is just that: a beginning. It is only the first step of a journey and you never know where it will take you. But the people and the experiences along the way will enrich you, even when they are negative.

Entropay is one of the success stories you have probably never heard about. Mark Anthony Spiteri, its chief operating officer, believes the time has come to change that.

And most importantly, there will be a whole new you. The adrenaline rush of a set of new keys, a new letterhead, the first sales inquiry… Getting to that stage will certainly require an astounding amount of work, but nothing beats the satisfaction of the first few shoots of success. Think about it.

Credits Editor: Anthony P. Bernard

Design: Bloom

Printing: Print It

Distribution: Mailbox Direct Marketing Group

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Money is published by Be Communications Ltd, No. 81, Howard Street, Sliema, Malta SLM 1754 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed in Money are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, but the editor and publishers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in articles, advertising, photographs or illustrations. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome but cannot be returned without a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The editor is not responsible for material submitted for consideration.

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Open offices facilitate sociability and idea sharing, however, the noise can be a major challenge. Add flexible and immediate sound absorbing solutions such as acoustic wall paneling, islands or soffits to have an increase in your employees’ productivity.


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Contents (10)



The Crowdfunding Revolution

Fintech: Re-imagining Financial Services

Clear the way for New Growth


MONEY discovers what crowdfunding means and how it could work for your next project.


Venturing Forth Veronica Stivala

Veronica is a freelance writer and editor. She won the IGM Award for her work on Ethical and Positive Disability in 2016.


When Speed is of the Essence

Interview with Mark Anthony Spiteri, chief operating officer, Entropay.


Theo Dix

Theo Dix is a manager in EY’s Transaction Advisory Services team and the firm’s local FinTech lead.


Intangible Recognition

Victor Paul Borg

Victor Paul Borg has published more than one million words, as well as hundreds of pictures, all published in books and magazines and newspapers in every corner of the world.

Richard Muscat Azzopardi is the CEO of Switch – Digital & Brand, a marke ng agency that forms part of ICOM, the world’s largest network of independent agencies.


Good Business Caroline Zeitler

Caroline Zeitler is a social entrepreneur, writer, coach and activist - amongst other things. In everything she does, she believes in creating more connection in the world.”



Taking your Finger off the Trigger The Bluesman

The Bluesman is a Maltese sound engineer working in New York.


Taking Stock: From Past to Future Manuel worked for several years in Maltese politics including as press secretary to then prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami and chief of staff for senior government ministers in PN administrations.


To Believe or Not to Believe

Giselle Borg Olivier

Giselle is a freelance writer, proofreader and social media marketer who lives on Instagram and cappuccino. Runs Content for Success.

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Richard Muscat Azzopardi


Manuel Delia



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Sunshine Scattered with Clouds Alex Mangion

Licensed stockbroker Alexander Mangion is managing director at MPM Capital investments since 2009. The company is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to provide financial services in Malta and holds a Category 2 licence. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) degree in Banking & Finance (UoM) and a Masters of Finance and Investments (University of Nottingham).

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THE CROWDFUNDING Revolution Across the world, crowdfunding opportunities have helped to make start-up ideas a reality. Locally, Malta’s crowdfunding platform Zaar has also done exactly that. MONEY discovers what crowdfunding means and how it could work for your next project. 2017 was a big year for crowdfunding, with over

“Zaar has definitely grown and developed since we

quality, and that has proved to be a winning formula

$16.2 billion raised across the globe. Internationally,

opened our doors a number of years ago,” says Zaar

for so many of our projects. Plus, the fact that the

that number is expected to climb this year as,

manager Matthew Caruana. “Initially our successful

number of repeat backers is also growing shows that

already, more than 380,000 projects have launched

projects were mainly philanthropic but, since then,

users are keen to support local projects too.”

on the world’s largest crowdfunding platform,

we have seen a shift towards creative projects and,

With that in mind, Matthew encourages local

Kickstarter, since January.

most recently, business and start-up projects too.”

start-ups to consider crowdfunding as an alternative

The platform’s success rate has also improved, and

means for raising capital.

Locally, more and more projects are also turning

Matthew believes this is because of the unique

to crowdfunding – and, specifically, the country’s

hands-on support and local knowledge that Zaar

“Typically, start-ups don’t have the collateral to

only dedicated crowdfunding platform, Zaar. In

brings to the table, as opposed to some of the larger

qualify for bank financing and crowdfunding

fact, Zaar enjoyed a record year in 2017 and hit a

multinational crowdfunding platforms.

is easier to achieve than funding from major investors,” he explains. “It offers additional

90 per cent success rate across its online campaigns, raising a substantial €85,000. Zaar achieved this

“We are focused on Maltese organisations and on

benefits that other types of funding do not, such

by attracting over 60,000 website visitors and over

giving them the best crowdfunding experience

as being able to give you early proof-of-concept

1,400 project backers.

possible,” he says. “For us it’s not about quantity but

and market validation. And, with crowdfunding,

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help and guidance in this regard, and encourage

Chris Dingli

interested parties to speak to us early on so we can assist you through the process.” With all this in mind, it’s worth noting that crowdfunding can be especially useful for social entrepreneurs – people eager to start a business that is as socially focused as it is economically. “Social enterprises can be very appealing to the crowd, both because of the product or service they are launching, and because of the cause or motive behind the whole idea,” Matthew continues. “However, social enterprises shouldn’t just base their attractiveness on the fact they are doing something good but, as the name implies, should also be enterprising with a good offering, good rewards, good promotions and good networks.” Now, Matthew and the team are looking forward to welcoming a number of fantastic campaigns over the next few months, and are working to

“It’s not just a matter of putting a

select good quality projects from committed individuals that really believe in their campaigns.

project online and waiting for the

“Our plan for the rest of 2018 is to expand our reach and to start working in new areas of

funds to roll in.ˮ

crowdfunding. We will also continue our efforts to move into investment-based crowdfunding,

you can use your campaign as a marketing and

“The funding goal is also critical,” Matthew

PR tool, engage people and refine your ideas,

explains, “as campaigners need to make sure they

gain pre-orders from potential customers,

raise enough funds to get their project off the

turn backers into loyal customers, access

ground, while being realistic about what backers

immediate internationalisation thanks to

will give them. As our campaigns are ‘all or

your online campaign, boost your confidence,

nothing’ – which means that funds are returned

attract attention from other investors, and use

if the target isn’t reached – then it’s important to

it as a means of complementing other types of

opt for the lowest possible funding goal, so that it


is attainable. This can always be raised once the

and to establish a group of early-stage investors. We are eager to hear from anyone interested to learn more about this aspect of crowdfunding.” Despite all that has been achieved in Malta, Matthew still stresses that more needs to be done: “Yes, crowdfunding has been accepted and people are largely aware of it, but this is just the start,” he says. “For instance, areas like civic crowdfunding

first goal is achieved.”

have not been tapped into yet, and we also

consider before embarking on a crowdfunding

And beyond all that, Zaar highlights the need

crowdfunding where businesses can raise funds

campaign – it’s not just a matter of putting a

for promotion. “If you’ve got a campaign, then

project online and waiting for the funds to roll

you need to advertise and promote it,” Matthew

in. To start with, you need to pitch your idea


need to make the move into investment-based

That said, there is a lot to think about and

by selling equity or mini bonds. “With all of that in mind, we encourage the private sector to join us in making crowdfunding

to the crowd and strive to attract backers. Zaar recommends doing this in both text and video

“You need to create a new network, and use your

an ever-more mainstream alternative option for

format, so as to reach out to as many people as

existing network to reach out both before and

financing, as this will definitely generate more


during the campaign. At Zaar, we offer a lot of

growth in the future,” he concludes.

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CROWDFUNDING Success stories We chat to the entrepreneurs behind two of the successful crowdfunding campaigns that raised their funding on Zaar in 2017. BAD DAD

target amount of funds, allowing the project to

across! Suddenly, everyone knew about my project

move forwards!

and I still get asked about it almost a year later. “Also, bear in mind that the nature of a

Actor Chris Dingli ran a campaign to fund his theatre project Bad Dad, which has plans to tour

“If you are thinking of starting a crowdfunding

crowdfunding campaign is transactional. People


campaign, then I recommend being creative in your

are not giving a donation. People are investing

approach and listening to the advice of the experts.

in your project in return for a reward. You're not

“I crowdfunded to raise funds to take my one-man

You've got to put yourself out there and actively

begging for a handout; you're asking them to invest

show on tour to North America,” Chris explains.

work on the campaign - constantly. It won't run

in something they believe in. Therefore if you have a

“I received public funding, but needed to raise

itself. I got tons of exposure from a fun promotional

strong story that captures their attention, and good

additional funds beyond my own savings to cover

video I made for the campaign. Due to the fleeting

rewards that they would want (and that you can

the considerable costs involved in making the

life cycle of a news story nowadays, it only went

deliver), your campaign will stand a much better

project happen. The results were good: I raised the

viral for about 15 minutes, but it got the message

chance of success!”

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UNIVERSITY OF MALTA RACING TEAM University of Malta Racing (UoMR) crowdfunded to design, build and race a formula-style racing car, and successfully raised €5,000. “Our team is divided into two main parts: the engineering team and the business team,” explains Kurt Dalli. “While the engineering team is focused on the design, manufacturing and testing of the actual race car, the business team takes care of all

the management, fundraising and commercial relationships involved in such a project. “Traditionally, our revenue always came from corporate and government sponsors and during the last season we saw that it was time to try to diversify our income. One of the options we looked into was crowdfunding. We decided to give it a shot because we felt that our project had sufficient reach and public interest that would make it possible to achieve our goal. It was definitely a success for

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our team - firstly because the goal of €5,000 was achieved, and secondly, because we received a major marketing boost during the campaign period, which further strengthened our social media presence. “If you’re thinking of crowdfunding, my tip would be to make sure to engage with anyone who shows interest in the project and keep them in the loop. Although the funds are very important in the short term, the relationships built with the project's followers throughout the campaign may be more beneficial in the long run.” (M)

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Toni Attard

VENTURING FORTH After 11 years in the public arts sector Toni Attard took the bold move to launch his own start-up, Culture Venture. He speaks frankly to Veronica Stivala about making the move, doubts, and making big creative ideas work.

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For years, Toni Attard devised policies, strategies

the previous three months developing his business

his own boss, I am not surprised to hear that this

and programmes that supported the growth of

plan, making his start-up known in international

committed worker still burns the midnight oil. (He

freelancers and small enterprises as the main

cultural networks and securing the first clients.

replies to my questions at 9.30pm, while waiting for

contributors in the cultural and creative sectors. But after 11 years in the public arts sector, he wanted to practise what he preached. “So,” he concluded, “the only way I could really experience the reality of a start-up in the cultural sector was to start one myself.” In addition to setting an example, Toni also believes the majority of people working in the sector will not apply for jobs but prefer to create their own. At the time of our interview, Toni is just three months into Culture Venture, “a new creative enterprise that makes big creative ideas work”, of which more later. While admitting he is probably still in the honeymoon period, Toni explains that although he technically launched in January 2018, he had spent

a call from a new client to discuss a new project). “The support from family, friends and former

Yet what has changed is the tempo and variety of

colleagues was incredible, especially in moments


when I started doubting my decision,” he said thoughtfully. The biggest challenge was also keeping focus on the start-up process and turning down enticing full time job offers in Malta and abroad. Ensuring he laid firm foundations, Toni reached out to Business First – the government association which offers help to businesses – which supported his start-up with advice and seed funding to get him organised. Creating a start-up in the cultural sector is no different to any other start-ups: “Identify a potential unique selling proposition, seek out collaborations and, if the immediate market is too small, reach out to other markets from day one,” Toni elaborates. When I ask Toni what it was like for him to go from being in employment to being

“My typical day is very atypical,” he confides, adding how he “may be reviewing a script in the morning, drafting a consultancy report from a café for lunch, lecturing in arts management in the afternoon and on a Skype meeting with clients in Australia at midnight. This requires a lot of discipline and prioritisation of work,” both of which, he admits, he is struggling with. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy, and, knowing Toni personally, I suspect he is relishing the new challenge. Speaking of which, I am curious to learn more about how Culture Venture makes “big creative ideas work”.


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The entrepreneur explains his three main areas of

Policy Designers Network that will bring together

the creative industries such as film, fashion and


fellow freelancers and small consultancy firms

video games attract substantial private investment,

specialising in the cultural and creative sectors

culture and the arts are still dependent on public

1. Advisory on cultural policy and strategy which

to develop new partnerships on a European and

investment, increasing the risk of a crisis in the

is mainly for public and private cultural entities

international level. These partnerships and Toni’s

sector should this be reduced. Culture Venture

in Malta and abroad. Humbly, he notes how he is

involvement with the World Summit and the

is already working on some of these projects and

“very honoured to be supporting the development

International Federation of Arts Council and

will continue to champion the same principles and

of the next national cultural policy for Malta”. He is

Cultural Agencies will also add value to the services

priority needs in upcoming policies and projects

also chairing the international programme advisory

Culture Venture offers to its current and future

with the public and private sectors.

committee of the next World Summit for Culture

clients. Turning to bettering the local cultural scene,

and the Arts in Malaysia in 2019, as well as being a

I am keen to discover what advancements Toni

In addition to working in the cultural sector, one

partner advising a yet-to-be-announced city’s bid as

believes Malta needs to make. While acknowledging

a European Capital of Culture.

a dramatic improvement in the professional status

of Culture Venture’s exciting remits extends to

of culture and the arts, he stresses there are some

working in non-artistic environments. This, admits Toni, is still the most difficult area to penetrate and

2. Production and events: Toni designs, produces

important matters that need to be addressed:

and co-produces arts projects mainly in the

“Cultural leadership of public cultural organisations

performing and visual arts. These include the

by cultural professionals needs to be set as a

launch of Nuna Palk – a theatre season for young

standard and as a non-negotiable apolitical matter

plans, he says: “Creative development in non-artistic

audiences at Teatru Salesjan – and the production

across public administration.”

environments is not only about having a live band

he forecasts this development in his business to be introduced in the next three years. Explaining his

in your lobby or a team building exercise with

of his first successful Malta Arts Fund application for an upcoming visual arts projects between

Cultural infrastructure is also still weak, he adds

artists but also introducing creative processes within

photographer Alex Attard and the Notarial

and “this hinders our own potential to grow

the work environment that provides employees with


further but also limits our role to be part of on an

time and space to come up with creative solutions.

international level”. 3. Training: Toni devises and delivers one-off and regular training sessions in arts management and the generation of creative ideas for the arts and

“The Malta


Philharmonic Orchestra

In addition to the above, one of Toni’s fortes is his

still has no concert hall;

rich database of contacts, and indeed this is one of the primary services he offers: bespoke advisory services through his extensive international network of experts. Part of this came about quite serendipitously: as he reached out to his European colleagues to inform them about his start-up idea, it transpired there were few cultural policy designers and consultants in the field operating within the private sector. “In addition to my own start-up I found myself in the middle of another start-up!” reveals Toni. Eight European firms are now in the process of joining forces and founding a European Cultural

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most actors still rehearse in living rooms and the last surviving purposebuilt theatre was built in 1731” Another issue that deserves attention is thinking and acting international: access to international

Inviting actors to support presentation techniques to senior management or engaging visual artists to provide creative solutions to management processes or providing a composer with a residency inside a company collaborating with other members of staff may sound alien to some businesses. However, these models have been proven to be successful with enterprises seeking innovation, creativity and new approaches in attracting and retaining talent.” We close with a few words of advice for others who may be inspired to follow in Toni’s footsteps. He is realistically grounded and quips that “perhaps we should follow up in a year to see if I’m still in business”. The best part about Culture Venture is that every project is in partnership with different

markets takes time and it’s very easy to get lost in

individuals and organisations so although so far on

unfamiliar territory. And finally, there needs to be

paper Toni operates alone, he is never on his own.

increased private support and investment: whereas


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When speed is of the essence Entropay is one of the success stories you have probably never heard about. Mark Anthony Spiteri, its chief operating officer, believes the time has come to change that. How did Entropay get its start in Malta?

Can you tell us more about the products Entropay is building here?

and exciting development, not just within our

Entropay cards are virtual Visa cards, which you can

We’re serious about speed, and it affects everything

instantly create in sterling, dollars or euro. They’re

we do at Entropay. The people that power our

We were a small team based here in Malta at a time

reloadable, and you can also delete them after just

products relentlessly shave milliseconds off loading

when the latest payment technologies were not always

one use to protect yourself from fraud. Using the

speeds and response times, so the people who use

available and advancements moved slowly. We couldn’t

newest Visa Direct and Mastercard MoneySend

our products can spend their time in a smarter way.

just wait for someone else to solve our problem, so we

technologies, we have just disrupted the disruptors

set out to speed up a solution.

with the beta release of Entropay Transfers, an

industry but for anyone who sends money (which is practically everyone!)

Every product starts with a problem. Ours was simple: online payments should be universally accessible.

Part of the Ixaris Group, Entropay was founded in 2003 by Alex Mifsud to provide online payments to everyone, regardless of their location or

instant money transfer product. Finally, Entropay

On that note, why haven’t we heard about Entropay before?

Enterprise is our whitelabel transfers product, built for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Entropay has definitely flown under the radar. In hindsight, I think we have been Malta’s secret tech

Disrupted the disruptors? How exactly?

success story. However, together with Entropay’s

internet’s history book, introducing the first virtual

The average bank transfer takes one day to receive.

visibility to brands doing something different in

Visa cards in Europe. And 8.8 million cards and 15

Many fintech apps take three days to send or

Malta, supporting sustainable growth in our local IT

years later, we’ve found our niche in the make-or-break

receive money. Entropay transfers take less than 30

scene and pushing innovation through our financial

global gaming sector, where we developed the kind

seconds: that’s 2,880 times faster than a SEPA bank

sector. This is why we’ve decided to shout louder

of unprecedented fraud-fighting system that today’s

transfer, and up to 8,600 times faster than other

about the genuinely interesting and impactful things

fintech apps can only aspire to achieve.

fintech products. We consider this a very significant

we’ve been doing at Entropay.

creditworthiness. It was a lonely time to be an internet business - Facebook, Gmail and YouTube didn’t exist yet! - but an exciting one. We added our line to the

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Executive Chairman David Sear and CCO Aran Brown, I believe it is important to give a voice and



“It is important to give a voice and

visibility to brands doing something different in Malta, supporting sustainable growth in our local IT scene and pushing innovation through our financial sector”

What was your part in Entropay’s success story?

colleagues don’t, or vice versa?

think is key to sustainable growth in this sector?

[Laughs] Some Maltese might think our traffic I’ve been with Entropay almost since the very

is terrible, but I think our London colleagues

It’s simple, really: build things the right way.

beginning. In 2005, I joined the company as a

definitely have a longer commute than us. It takes

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz about trendy

senior developer, having read for a degree in

some of them longer to get to their office than

technologies and cryptocurrencies, and at Entropay,

Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence at

it does to fly to Malta! So, we certainly have an

we’re all for pursuing innovation. But the winners

the University of Malta where Alex (Entropay’s

advantage in that respect.

in fintech will be those who seek innovation with an eye to usefulness and uniqueness, and a relentless

founder) was lecturing. I spent years building the product from the inside out with Alex, eventually

In all seriousness, though, in regards to resources or

dedication to building products based on solid

becoming product manager and then general

opportunities in Malta (or a perceived lack thereof),



the truth is you have to make them for yourself,

Entropay supported me in completing a Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship at the University of Malta. Later, in 2017 I became Entropay’s chief operating officer; the same year we achieved over 45% year-on-year growth. It’s been an exciting ride, and I’m keen to see where it takes our team, which now numbers 45 people working between our London and Malta offices.

Are there any challenges you face in Malta that your London

not rely on them being handed to you. And that

For Entropay, that means an impeccable fraud

is no different than the situation in any other city,

and security record (fraudulent activity makes up

whether London or elsewhere.

less than 0.5 per cent of all our transactions; the industry standard is 1-3 per cent) and the support

If Entropay could grow to become what it is today from Malta, the sky is indeed the limit for teams

of key partners.

that are focused and ambitious.

There are no shortcuts in this industry. (M)

Fintech seems like an obvious area where Malta can see growth, given its booming IT and financial services sectors. What do you

More on Entropay at

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Photography: Jan Zammit ( Production & styling: Amanda Gibbs for Hangar (

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INTANGIBLE RECOGNITION Are the Maltese language and Maltese cuisine, or at least aspects of it, worthy of being endorsed as manifestations of intangible cultural heritage of worldwide eminence by Unesco? This is what the government seems to reckon. Victor Paul Borg investigates.

The government has in recent weeks ratified the

I know how well-prepared the Chinese bids were

outstandingly unique, and furthermore which may

UN convention on intangible cultural heritage,

because it’s something I researched in China. In my

be endangered, are selected.

set up a board to prepare bids by Malta to Unesco,

decade there, I attended conferences and researched

In this sense every language is unique, and every

and launched a website for this purpose. As for

aspects of Chinese cultural heritage that made it to

language is intangible cultural heritage. But if many

manifestations of intangible cultural heritage which

the Unesco list, and I journalistically delved into

of the world’s 7,000-plus languages were to be listed

have potential for inclusion, Culture Minister

the Chinese government’s efforts to protect its vast

then the list would lose its relevance. And if all the

Owen Bonnici spoke about dialects in danger of

intangible cultural heritage. China is in fact heavily

endangered languages were listed, there would be

disappearing from the Maltese language, as well as

represented on Unesco’s coveted list: it has 39

several thousand languages in need of safeguarding,

food or aspects of cuisine.

listings, one of the largest of any single country.

and Unesco does not have the resources or funds to

Yet the government’s enthusiasm is rather forlorn,

Defining intangible cultural heritage is the

or at least premature. The Intangible Cultural

easy part: it is every aspect of a country’s or

So here is where the selectivity comes in. Unesco,

Heritage of Humanity is a coveted title, but getting

community’s heritage that cannot be displayed as

for example, recently listed the communication

on the list is notoriously difficult: fewer than 500

a relic in a museum, or preserved as a building or

by whistling prevalent in small pockets of the

manifestations or elements in the past 10 years in

monument, or preserved in situ. We are talking

mountains of northwest Turkey. It’s a remarkably

117 countries have been recognised as Intangible

about traditional practices or crafts, cultural

highly-developed form of coded language using

Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

rituals (dances, performances), perishable cultural

simple patterns of whistling for communication (I

undertake such a task.

manifestations (food), aspects of national or

experienced something similar, using patterns of

The Chinese government has tried – and failed –

regional identity (language), and so on. This makes

hoots uncannily similar to doves’ hoots, among a

twice (in 2011 and 2014) to get the bestowment for

manifestations of intangible cultural heritage

lost tribe who live in caves in a crater in an island in

Chinese cuisine, and that rejection is dispiriting

ubiquitous, but Unesco’s list would have no

the Sulu Sea once).

given the detailed, well-prepared application

meaning or purpose if everything were to be listed.

and corresponding lobbying, as well as the

So to narrow down the list to manageable levels,

The Maltese language? There is no chance it could

distinctiveness of Chinese cuisine. So, if Chinese

only those manifestations of intangible cultural

make the list, no chance even that Malta’s dialects

cuisine failed to make the selection gauntlet, would

heritage that are accompanied by highly-developed

are distinctive and ritualistic enough. These dialects

Maltese cuisine stand a chance?

rituals or skills or cultural meanings, which are

are something we ought to cherish, something

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Only those manifestations that are accompanied by highlydeveloped rituals or skills or cultural meanings, which are outstandingly unique, and furthermore which may be endangered, are selected. that enriche our culture, but on a global scale they

selection and matching of the wine with the food –

cheese (pickled in vinegar, salt, and pepper) and the

lack the eminence and refinements necessary for

these elements got French cuisine onto Unesco’s list,

preparation of dishes in which it is the predominant

Unesco’s list.

all the more so because the ritual is endangered in a fast-paced, fast-food era.

I also mentioned the importance of ritual in

ingredient are very distinctive; moreover, it’s a way of life that is also endangered. Other possible candidates in Malta are folk

manifestations that make it to the list, and this is

Mediterranean cuisine was also listed by Unesco,

in fact why Chinese cuisine failed the selection

not so much for the food itself, but for the

gauntlet twice. Although Chinese cuisine is

Mediterranean way of life that gave rise to the

has spawned an entire subculture with its rituals,

outstandingly unique, there is no cultural ritual

Mediterranean diet. Once again, it’s a diet that’s

lexicon, passions, and so on), the construction of

involved in the preparation or eating of the food.

endangered by our hectic, supermarket-dominated

traditional wooden boats (luzzu, a craft that’s also

Those rituals can be found in obscure, regional or

era. (Malta doesn’t feature on the list of countries

highly endangered), and perhaps even the making

local manifestations of the food in China, but not in

having a Mediterranean diet, possibly because

and mounting of baroque street decorations for

the cuisine of the entire country (obscure ritualised

Malta wasn’t a party to the convention at the time of

town feasts (the community spirit, the rituals of the

or skilled local delicacies in China have been put on

the listing.)

volunteers who do all the work, the craftsmanship,

the list, but not the entire cuisine). Given these selection parameters, Maltese cuisine

signing (ghana, which is highly endangered), the making of traditional Maltese fireworks (which

and so on). The five examples mentioned above might not

The closest Unesco has come to electing a country’s

would likewise never make it on Unesco’s list,

entire cuisine is French cuisine. Yet the title is for

but obscure local aspects of it may well do. The

“the gastronomic meal of the French”: the ritual of

making and eating of Gozo’s sheep cheese is the

the preparation and social sharing of the traditional

most obvious, if not the only, potential candidate

French multi-faceted meal. There is the setting and

in this sense. This ritualised, cultural manifestation

Italy, for example, only has eight listings - and that

dressing of the table, the social ritual of partaking

hits all the right notes: a way of life has formed

includes the “Mediterranean diet” that is shared

in the meal, the ritualistic sequence of servings, the

around the rearing of the sheep, the making of the

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ISSUE (48)

seem like much, but if we do manage to get that many listed it would still be a feat given our diminutiveness as a country.

among a group of countries. (M)

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FINTECH: RE-IMAGINING FINANCIAL SERVICES In the last 5 years FinTech - the use of disruptive business models and technology to provide financial services in innovative ways - has been one of the hottest start-up sectors. Theo Dix explains.

Many expected it to destroy banking as we know it.

in emerging markets results from its ability to

prevalence of mobile payments almost anywhere

Other financial sectors such as insurance and asset

tap into tech-literate but financially under-served

- from restaurants and retail stores, to small

managers feared that they would be next. The goal


one-man street vendors. Not to be left out, China’s

was to re-define financial services for the digital age.

street beggars have also cottoned on to the digital

The pace of consumer FinTech take-up varies

Although no data is available for Malta, the rate

payments revolution and have begun to display QR

drastically by location. In 2017, EY released the

of local FinTech take up is widely considered to be

codes (the black-and-white scannable barcodes)

second edition of its FinTech Adoption Index, a

low, with various factors contributing. Chief among

that passers-by can use to donate a payment instead

study based on more than 22,000 online interviews

them is probably the still prevalent use of cash. A

of the usual coins or paper currency.

of digitally active consumers in 20 markets around

recent study published by the European Central

the world. The results show that FinTech firms have

Bank puts Malta in the top spot in terms of cash

The FinTech sector is much broader than the

gained significant market traction.

usage among other eurozone members. The report

electronic payments sphere. In the insurance

highlights that 92 per cent of local transactions were

space, we have seen the rise of insurtech and the

carried out in cash.

introduction of data-led and usage-based insurance

While London, New York and Silicon Valley compete to position themselves as the world’s

concepts which use internet-enabled devices to

‘FinTech hub’, China has leapfrogged ahead to

This contrasts strongly with countries such as

transmit information when the insured product is

become the path-breaking centre of global FinTech

China, where you probably don’t need to bring

used. In the car insurance market, drivers in some

innovation and adoption. The industry's success

cash or credit cards to go out any more due to the

countries can now fit a device to their car that

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“Much of the FinTech innovation we have seen across the globe has come from innovative, tech-savvy start-ups as large incumbents struggle with inertia, slow internal decision-making processes and complex legacy systemsˮ

measures how well they drive. This approach allows

disrupted too, with the advent of robo-advisers,

to keep them ahead of traditional competitors.

insurance providers to base each client’s insurance

software that uses algorithms to help people make

FinTechs, on the other hand, benefit from a cost

premium on their actual on-road behaviour, from

informed investment decisions, and social trading

effective way to rapidly acquire customers and enter

how fast they accelerate to how quickly they corner,

that allow users to follow and replicate another

how late they brake, to when and where they

trader's portfolio and trading activity automatically.

new markets.

drive. This is certainly a break with the traditional

Much of the FinTech innovation we have seen across

way of basing insurance premiums on solely on a

the globe has come from innovative, tech-savvy

vehicle's make and model, the age of driver, their

start-ups as large incumbents struggle with inertia,

experience and history on the road. This concept is

slow internal decision-making processes and

being extended to health and life insurance, where

complex legacy systems. However, instead of going

insurers are looking to connect users’ wearable tech

head-to-head and trying to compete against each

devices and personal fitness apps to their databases

other, many FinTechs and traditional players in the

financial products, from retail banking to wealth

in return for incentives and discounts.

Western world are now realising that it is better to

management and insurance. They also come to

partner than compete.

expect the characteristics to be reflected in those

Other big FinTech sub-sectors include internet-

Consumers are drawn to FinTech services because propositions are simpler, more convenient, more transparent and more readily personalised. This has a ripple effect across the industry as consumers come to expect these characteristics from all

providing the service.

based crowdfunding which enables a multitude

Recently, a UK bank teamed up with an American

of products, social ideas and business to acquire

FinTech company to leverage the latter company’s

financial backing from people they have never met

platform to provide working capital solutions to

from all four corners of the globe. Likewise, peer-

SMEs within a day – a process that typically took

to-peer lending is the practice of lending money to

the bank between two and 12 weeks. The same bank

individuals or businesses through online services

is partnering with a different FinTech company to

that match lenders with borrowers.

build a peer-to-peer payment platform integrated into messaging applications such as WhatsApp and

As the sector evolves, FinTech adoption is expected to increase across the globe. Hopefully, it will only be a matter of time before Malta catches up. This country is currently trying to position itself as an investment destination for FinTech investment, with upcoming legislative and regulatory changes planned to support this goal. Should the country

The recent hype around crypto-currencies has

Facebook Messenger, linked to the bank’s customer

enabled individuals and organisations to raise


succeed in attracting this investment, it is likely that

concepts, without any central counterparty or

Traditional incumbents usually benefit from being

services for the local market and accelerate the pace

intermediary. Wealth and asset managers are being

able to offer a new, innovative service that aims

some of these companies may develop products and

millions of euro on the back of ‘white-paper’

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of adoption. (M)

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committed and professional We offer a dynamic service led by a team of experienced traders, determined to execute your instructions in a prompt, efficient and effective manner. Place your trades through our Branch Network, Investment Centres or 24/7 via our Internet Banking Service.*

Aiming to achieve effective goals for your success. Investment returns can go down as well as up and past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. Changes in the rate of exchange currencies may also affect the value of your investments. * Trades in complex financial instruments may only be processed through our Investment Centres. More information is available from or contact 2131 2020. Issued by Bank of Valletta p.l.c., 58, Triq San Ĺťakkarija, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130 Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited liability company regulated by the MFSA and is licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap. 370 of the Laws of Malta).






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Charlotte Sullivan Colin Ciantar

Owner, The Harbour Club

Owner, Bahia

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For more information, contact us at or visit

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AT your FINGER tips

Robert Grech explains to MONEY how an online directory remains the best way to link customers with businesses.


Findit achieves year-on-year growth in traffic. People come to our site to find anything they need, from a plumber to a real estate agent. Just to give you an example: in 2017, we had over 2.4 million sessions on the site. However, the internet has changed considerably. And so has the way people use it. We believe that interaction between client and business is key. While we kept the directory format, we have added a host of new features. The News and Offers section will allow businesses to inform their clientele about their latest news, which is an important avenue of communication for them. We have also included reviews. We firmly believe that reviews will not only help other users to choose companies for the work they need in a more informed way, but will also help businesses understand where they are doing well and where they need to improve. There are other features such as the Deal of the Day. We have studied similar features on other

Findit is Malta’s oldest online directory. What made you want to get into the online directory business?

sites, and one of the problems is that there is too

Back in those days there wasn’t any

contact a number of businesses, you would have

So whenever you searched on Google for anything related to Malta, you would get a mix of results from all over the world. Like Malta in Montana. We believed that by creating a directory that would bring together a number of businesses in various fields, we would be able to rank highly on Google and allow local businesses to be found by their target customers.

believe in the power of internet promotion. But we persisted. We were innovators in this sense, and others have tried to follow.

is sales director of Findit.

deal per day. This will offer maximum exposure to companies who decide to offer a deal. The last new feature is the Quotes. Up to now, in order to to e-mail or call each one individually. With our quote function, our users will be able to contact a number of businesses through one simple form. Quick and easy.

Why should a business invest in Findit out of all the media out there? When you have an ad you do not know who will

The beginning was not easy. People still did not

Robert Grech

much going on at one go. We will be offering one

act on it. Even with the targeting offered by digital ads, you are still not going to get a great hit rate. When people use directories it is because they

You just launched a new platform. What new features did you include and why?

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need a particular service or product, right there and then. So when they visit they are ready to act. (M)

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GOOD BUSINESS Changing the way we do business – and making it sustainable – has become Mark Gilson’s passion. He explains why to Caroline Zeitler. ISSUE (48)

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“Consumers are also becoming more and more conscious that they can make a difference by choosing where to spend their eurosˮ So far the response to economic downturn has mostly

However, he was not happy; his quality of life did not

the moment he succeeded in making it, many years

been to incentivise consumerism, encouraging people

match his standard of living. Via many detours, trials

passed. And he is still on the journey; he is still ‘a work in

to buy more stuff that is just going to end up in landfills

and tribulations, he finally came to the conclusion that

progress’ in many ways.

sooner or later.

he needed a major shift in his attitude and in his life. Bit by bit he shifted from a mind-centred, goal-driven

However, through starting his company Do

We are all well aware of the problems that this approach

attitude to a heart-centred, purpose-driven attitude and

Something Good, he made a major leap. Now his day

to economic growth has brought with it: we are running

way of life. The journey has been a bumpy one but he has

is all about fulfilling his purpose: he supports other

out of space to put the waste, out of natural resources to

learned to enjoy the ride along the way.

people who want to do something good but are not sure how to go about it.

manufacture new products, and out of patience with the authorities and with each other.

“When I was goal-oriented, I was so focused on the goal, metaphorically my life raft on the sea of possibility, that

The way he got to this point was at times difficult, at

Most of us live in unhealthy environments, thinking toxic

I would frequently miss the ship heading in the same

times painful, but always rewarding in the end.

thoughts and wasting our lives doing jobs for the money

direction. Changing perspectives to see the ship, i.e. the

Do Something Good (DSG) is a community-based

that will hopefully enable us to have a happy retirement,

bigger picture, has meant a shift from things happening

virtual incubator ( where ideas

all the while overindulging in food, drink and other

to me to things happening through me,” Mark reflected.

can flourish as social and purpose-driven enterprises.

unhealthy ‘entertainment’ to make it all bearable. “If money wasn’t an issue, what would I be doing now?”

It enables social enterprise in various ways, by

It doesn’t make sense – either on the individual or on

was the question that led to Mark finding his true

mentoring and upskilling the entrepreneurs

the global level. In 2012, Mark Gilson had been working

passion: giving everyone an opportunity to live their full

themselves, by finding potential do-good partners

in the online gaming industry for eight years, pursuing

potential by doing what they love and sharing what they

to which businesses can outsource and by giving

the prescribed success goals of status, money and


access to business and legal advice. Beyond that, DSG also serves as a role model for social

possessions. Despite not having a degree, he had worked his way up to a respectable position with a matching

He didn’t get there all at once. From the moment he

enterprise, not only through serving the community

salary and standard of living.

realised that he needed a major change in his life until

it works for but also through donating a share of the

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Mark Gilson

profits towards regeneration of land in Malta.

as his inspiration. As a purpose-driven entrepreneur,

And it is the same for consumers. They are also

As an interactive platform, it gives everyone

working mainly online, he fits the role that Rifkin

becoming more and more conscious that they can

who believes in a better way to do business the

envisions for those who are going to lead this third

make a difference by choosing where to spend their

opportunity to learn and share knowledge, so

industrial revolution. Shifting to doing more online


together they can create a new, more sustainable

will help with logistical challenges, while the time

version of reality.

freed up as AI takes over mindless tasks can be used

“So CSR is becoming more and more of a necessity

to give humans more fulfilling roles, where we focus

for businesses – thankfully,” says Mark. In order to

Author and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin explains

on doing good in our local community as well as the

support Maltese companies to realise the potential

that the Millenials have a predisposition - and a

larger community.

of CSR and the impact it could have on their business, Mark brought together a team of experts

responsibility - to really make a difference and revolutionise the way that things are currently done.

“DSG as a company is aspiring to be ahead of the

from several European countries to offer Maltese

Making business more sustainable by injecting

curve, anticipating the way business will develop in

companies insights and advice on how they could

purpose and corporate social responsibilty plays a big

the future. Since we clearly have to think about being

implement CSR in their own organisations. On

role in his vision.

more sustainable in the way we do business and look

April 20 “Do Good Business” opened its doors in

after the resources at our disposal, we might as well

Valletta to a curious crowd of business owners and

“The price of energy and food is climbing,

start to make a difference sooner rather than later. We

managers eager to do business - and do good.

unemployment remains high, the housing market has

have no time to waste.” “Awareness about what CSR and social enterprise

tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a

Forbes says: “Social impact companies have an

are, and how they work, has been growing but we

second collapse of the global economy, humanity is

advantage in hiring and retaining staff. Top job

are impatient to see more happening on that front.”

desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to

candidates weigh many things when deciding where

take us into the future,” Rifkin wrote, an approach

to take their skills. Salary alone is not enough. They

Mark says and goes on to recommend: “Maltese

which Mark has completely embraced.

seek companies whose values and goals align with

companies should seize this opportunity to make a

Rifkin’s vision of a third industrial revolution serves

their own.”

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quantum leap into the future.” (M)

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SOUTHERN COMFORTS Mario Camilleri was confident that the Main Street Shopping Complex in Paola shopping mall would become a success story in just a few years. Last month, it reached an important target, welcoming its 10 millionth customer since its opening. The company director explains to MONEY what this success means to him.

Which are the main achievements of Main Street Complex so far?

Mario Camilleri has been a director of Main Street Complex p.l.c., the company which operates Main Street Shopping Complex, since 2006.

When way back in 2003, the Company’s board identified a gap in the “shopping offer” in the Southern region of the island, they immediately set an ambitious goal to invest in a shopping complex for the region. The solution was the launch of Main Street Complex in the heart of Paola in 2004. Thirteen years later, with the 10 million customer threshold being reached, Main Street Complex is truly recognised as the leading shopping complex in the south of Malta. This achievement is the result of a mix of factors, amongst which are the belief in the region by the number of brands and tenants operating out of the complex, the loyalty of customers and visitors, a good tenant mix, a clean and comfortable environment and a reliable management team focused on delivering pleasant experience to our customers.

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Incidentally achievements so far have not only been at the “retail” level but also at the Corporate one as well. Having recognised the potential of Main Street Complex, the Gasan Group acquired 50% of the Complex from the Bigbon Group which up until 2009 was the sole investor. The company’s new shareholding team soon embarked on a €1.75 million growth strategy which were invested in the acquisition of two adjacent properties in 2011, that were subsequently redeveloped into an extension of the Complex, thereby increasing its commercial area by circa 30%. Such expansion enabled the introduction of further retail concepts and today customers benefit from a mix of local and international brands, and a Complex operating at quasi full occupancy.

You just practically explained that Main Street has become the shopping destination in the south of Malta. But what makes Main Street popular? As is generally acknowledged the success of any complex is primarily determined by its offering. Main Street’s mix of international and local brands such as Debenhams, Pull & Bear, Accessorize, Pimkie, Sterling Jewellers, The Model Shop, Matrix, and Flying Tiger, is unmatched in the Southern region. The diversified mix of shops available at Main Street – from fashion wear to jewellery, gadgets, novelties, toys, hair saloon and beauty products, together with a 450sqm Laser Tag amusement area ideal for parties, team building events or family activities, and a cafeteria and Bingo hall on the top floor, offer a good balance between shopping and leisure time for our customers The feedback we get from many of our customers is that Main Street is very convenient in terms of its

the area, such as Bulebel or around the airport –

of its energy from solar power, and a conversion of

they find Main Street convenient for their quick

all common parts’ lighting to energy-efficient ones.

purchases. Main Street is in the middle of the Paola

We have also embarked on a project to separate all

Square, with good transport connection and an

the waste generated by the shops and by customers

underground carpark which is very convenient

who visit Main Street. During the years, the

for those visiting our complex with their vehicle.

company has also been active in various initiatives

Thanks to all this, our customers have made

to support different charitable organisations and

Main Street Complex their leading shopping and

associations in our community. These are just few

entertainment destination. Then I’m sure that

examples of the different actions we took over the

another boost will come through the new Paola

years to help our community.

square regeneration project which should be ready soon. This will definitely help the business community in the area.

What are Main Street’s credentials towards the community? Our community is key to us. It is our responsibility to work hand in hand with the community to help and improve the lives of people. We gladly note that a good number of locals are engaged by our suppliers and the 19 retailers operating in the mall.

What are your plans for the future? Our focus will remain on our customers, offering them the best brands in a modern, attractive and comfortable environment. We will continue to work hand in hand with our tenants as we believe that the success of Main Street is not just ours but also theirs. At the same time, we will make sure that our mix of brands reflects market demands and that customers see us as their ideal destination for shopping and entertainment. The support to our community will also remain part of our plans.

Furthermore, as part of our efforts for a cleaner environment, we are currently undertaking green

We are looking forward for the coming years to

who are from the area, yet, many others who are

initiatives through an investment in solar panels

continue welcoming the thousands of customers

not necessary from the south but who work in

through which will enable the complex to get most

who visit Main Street on a weekly basis. (M)

location and accessibility. We get many customers

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Taking Stock: From Past To Future Economists are optimistic when nobody else is. There is something Buddhist in the forecasting of the performance of an economy, at least in so far as cycles and the alternation between ups and downs are concerned. Manuel Delia explains. There is no eschatology in economics, not since Marx went out of fashion anyway. There will be no day of enlightenment where economies need not anticipate the next downturn and are liberated from the cycles of boom and bust. Malta’s economy has been on the up and up since the last crisis, reaching growth heights and unemployment lows of dizzying extents. With a government in surplus, all nerves about a starving behemoth looking to bite off future prosperity before it materialises are mellowed. With restrictions on property development reduced to a formality, the lid on securing super-profits in a concrete deposit is lifted. The wave that carried Malta’s economy through other people’s financial crisis a decade ago continues to flow strong. Online gaming remains a strong activity, employing thousands of expats who spend big chunks of their generous incomes on inflated rents and lavish entertainment while here. Financial services may have changed the character of their clients but the volumes remain strong and

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Malta remains a jurisdiction where it is easier to find a forgotten treasure chest lying about than an accountant. The government has a quaint spin on the bad press we’ve been getting over the last several months: it’s the product of the envy of others (as in other countries) who have given up on catching up with Malta’s success so who criticise it to bring it down. Quaint. But dishonest and unhelpful. We refuse to see the criticism we are getting for what it is and in doing so we bring about our own downfall. The ‘envy’ explanation is rationalisation and denial, all in one. The criticism is not unlike what we say about someone displaying inordinate wealth we suspect has been acquired illegally. We do not necessarily envy a drug lord’s hacienda though we do resent the fact their nefarious activities are rewarded instead of punished. For as long as they are. Now we defend ourselves by pointing out we are not all crooks. Of course we aren’t. Most of us



aren’t. But the international criticism of Malta is not

This is something that has happened to the

addressed at individuals but at a collective, one we

government’s management of its own finances.

all seek to belong to when the going is good. When

From 1998 onwards, Malta’s administrations

that collective image goes down, we all go down

adopted a culture of administrative leanness.

with it, no matter how honest we are as individuals.

Recruitment was all but frozen. New projects

The Pilatus Bank disaster is a burden that all honest bankers working here must now carry. The arrest and indictment of its owner is not a product of anybody’s envy. The criticism addressed to those who recommended him, licensed him and protected him during the years he conducted his business here is not a product of anybody’s envy. It is a product of the greed and negligence that allowed him to use our good name for bad business. Less obvious and more dramatic is the unfolding

were subjected to tight cost management and new operational costs were permitted only if they

It remains supremely “ironic that we now have a government that has sold off state hospitals but bought

privately-owned banks

replaced old ones, preferably if they reduced them. Deficit control – and the unnerving scrutiny from Brussels – became a driver for efficiency gains, for the reduction of the size of the government, for a withdrawal from state-controlled commercial

But, depending on your point of view, these might merely be a new set of parameters from which to operate.

activities. Eventually it led to a sustainable

Financial services will remain a pillar of economic

reduction of the tax burden and, of course, a tight

activity here but can no longer realistically rely on

control on the budget imbalance.

“our reputation” as that is no longer a good thing. It used to be. But nostalgia won’t earn us a living.

Enter the passport sales scheme. Every million

The industry must pull its socks up and stop being

in deficit could be compensated for by selling a

so bloody timid about things. It must show itself

passport that costs a handful of coins to produce.

capable of providing an honest day’s work in spite

owner did not only highlight the weaknesses of

That wiped out the deficit and removed the need for

of government maladministration and corruption

our banking regulation; it also highlighted how

Brussels’ scrutiny. It removed the need to control

super-wealthy criminals use multiple passports to

costs. It opened the floodgates of public sector

dodge law enforcement. Reports of immigration

recruitment engaging gardeners and plumbers

Gaming will remain for a while yet a major

authorities revising their welcoming protocols to

and partisan scribes in their hundreds, awarding

contributor to our economy and a sustainable

assume higher risk from all holders of passports

lifelong sinecures that must be paid beyond

employer. But it cannot continue to trust the

from countries that sell citizenship to others are

retirement whether passports are still being sold

administration to prevent and, failing that, to

seriously bad news for Malta’s capacity to continue

or not.

reverse the penetration of mafia and money-

disaster that is following on the tax holiday we all secured for ourselves on the sale of Maltese citizenship to plutocrats. The arrest of the Pilatus

to do business in the world. A government cannot by itself build a country’s commercial reputation. You also need an entrepreneurial community, a focused labour force, dexterity with languages, geographical advantage and logistical access and so on. But a government can by itself destroy a country’s commercial reputation. And we’re learning all the lessons on how that can be done in a surprisingly short time.

- rather than because of it.

laundering activity in their business. Legitimate The budget surplus atrophied the administration’s

businesses are the first to realise when they are

willingness to reduce its presence in the economy,

competing with people who are not working to

letting it run itself. Quite the contrary, flush with

profit from the business itself but to clean illicit

cash the government stepped into areas it had not

profits from altogether shadier activities. They

belonged to for decades. Now we have a state-

should speak up, quickly and clearly.

controlled bank in business and the postal services have gone back into the public sector reversing the macro-economic gains of successful privatisations

You would think this piece is going against the

from the past. It remains supremely ironic that

general ‘new beginnings’ streak of this edition of

we now have a government that has sold off state

the publication you are reading. Well, yes and no.

hospitals but bought privately-owned banks.

Almost certainly you were not expecting new beginnings to fall on us like rain from an unclouded

Instead of preparing for an altered economic

sky. People in business know that if something is

scenario, it feels like the first priority of our

easy, there has to be a catch. And if something is

administrators is to dispose of excess liquidity they

easy, a business’s agility and willingness to fight

barely know what to do with. There are, then, some

atrophies loses all ability to survive the next crisis.

indicators of the future that may feel dim and bleak.

ISSUE (48)

There’s no advice for the property development trade, really. They should know better than anyone that no matter what they’ve been told, the limits of the island are what they are and they’ll reach and exceed them in their own business lifetimes at this rate. For the rest of us, we need to look at how to reinvent our economy even as it groans under the hangover from the current gluttonous bender. (M)

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Freddie tried to cut costs by fixing the toilet himself. It didn’t end well. MONEY NEW BEGINNINGS ISSUE

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Family bonds


Dr Nadine Lia

Money speaks to Dr Nadine Lia, Regulator for Family Businesses, who gives an in-depth explanation of the Family Business Act and the advantages this Act will bring about for family-owned businesses, Malta being the first European country to enact this kind of legislation.  In broad terms, can you explain what the

Family Business Office is and its purpose?

The Family Business Office was established last year to assist family businesses to achieve continuity between generations, provide support and guidance, and establish a legal and administrative framework by means of the Family Business Act against which family businesses can have a method to guide and facilitate their transition to ensure growth and continuity. Furthermore, the Family Business Office has the role of representing family businesses as a sector, promote policy, administer the various schemes and incentives available and develop new ones for the benefit of the sector.  Why was the Family Business Act created and what’s the purpose of the Act?

its aim. Furthermore, the legislation is intended to act as a complement to present legal and financial structures to local and foreign family businesses considering making Malta as their jurisdiction of choice.

and implementation of compliance directives to develop operations. 5. Investment Aid provided to family business whenever they take over an enterprise and assets from related family members.

 What would you say are its principal benefits and attractions?

Governance: 6. Legal, Notarial and Accountancy advisory services up to €12,500 for the purposes of assistance in the succession, governance, structuring or business transfer of a family business. 7. Micro Loan Guarantee of up to €500,000 per business for business enhancement, growth and development. 8. Education and Training for owners and their employees of up to €1,000 annually 9. Mediation of up to five sitting with a value of €2,500 with the objective to establish the fair value of the business. 10. The positive consideration of lease renewals occupying government industrial premises.

The incentives are categorised as fiscal incentives, tax credits and governance incentives. Fiscal: 1. Budget Measure 2017: When transferring a family business, duty on immoveable property shall be chargeable on the first €500,000 of the value of the property transferred at the reduced stamp duty of 5% to 3.5%. 2. When transferring shares, interests in a partnership,

The Family Business Act is the first known international Act of Parliament created specifically to encourage the regulation of family businesses, their governance and the transfer of the family business from one generation to the next. The Act seeks to encourage and assist family businesses to enhance their internal organisation and structure with the aim of effectively operating the business and working towards a successful succession of the family business. Furthermore, family businesses will, for the first time, be given an identity and platform. Having an identity through a definition will allow family business to further develop the sector, lobby and grow to achieve

trust or foundation, no account of duty shall be taken of the first €150,000 or such other greater amount as may be prescribed of the value of the shares, or interests in a partnership, trust or foundation transferred in assessing the duty chargeable.

How can family businesses apply to benefit from these incentives?

3. Family members transferring their family business to their children will benefit from a reduced stamp duty of 5% to 1.5% with no capping on the amount to be transferred. Tax credits: 4. Micro Investment up to a maximum of €70,000 to encourage business investment, innovation, expansion

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Any interested family businesses are invited to contact us on 2220 9524, 2219 6119, 2219 6147, email:, Facebook: FamilyBusinessOfficeMalta or visit www. so that we may be able to register them, giving them access to the incentives and benefits.

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To Believe…

Or Not to Believe Technology giant Google is offering funds to digital media houses via its Google Digital News Initiative Fund. Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri spoke to Giselle Borg Olivier about this latest proposal, and what the availability of this fund could mean for news publishers, especially in today’s world of ‘fake news’.

A Eurobarometer survey a few weeks ago presented some disturbing news: 86% of the Maltese respondents

This distortion ranged from flat-out

And what is worse, this is by

Apart from the number of those who

consider that distorted news is a

lies to twisting the facts of what was

no means a uniquely Maltese

mistrust the news, another worrying

problem in Malta.

actually happening in the country.

phenomenon: the EU average of

aspect that emerged from the report

Only 1% of those contacted for

those who feel that news is distorted

was the frequency of it: more than half

the survey said that incorrect news

was 85%.

of the Maltese said they encountered

reporting was “definitely” not a

distorted news at least every week, and


nearly a third said they came across incorrect news every day.

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ISSUE (48)



achieve from collaborating with this global

that people are protected from, or at least informed


about, what is fake news and what is not.

the Maltese media industry. Who can access

This is not the first time that Malta is cooperating

these funds? And under what remit?

with Google. A few months ago, Google launched

Fake news is a disservice to those journalists and

 In March, you launched the Google Digital News Initiative Fund, which means that around $150 million are now available for

two other initiatives with the support of the These funds are open to all news publishers in Malta

government: Google Street View and Wonders of

to help them improve the quality of digital news

Malta. These are two digital applications which

through technological innovation. This secretariat,

enhance the experience of both residents and

which is responsible for digital economy and

visitors in Malta through technological innovation.

innovation, invited Google to extend this funding

Having global brands like Google in Malta is

programme to Malta’s news ecosystem including

important for us since they have proved to be

newsrooms, journalists, publishers, marketing

at the forefront of innovation and believe that

agencies and the academia.

innovation improves the quality of life of citizens and businesses.

All those interested are invited to obtain more information from Google’s digital innovation fund website and follow the designated application process with Google. All the interested eligible parties are encouraged to come up with projects and initiatives that will improve the public’s experience and enhance the service provided on digital news publishing platforms. Google will assess the

media organisations who strive to investigate and publish true information which is of value to their readers. We can’t end up in a scenario where journalists who have obtained true information and verified their sources end up on par with publishers of fake news. This would be a threat to the news industry, which is considered the 4th pillar of democracy.

 The concept of 'spin' has always existed in the political sphere. Do you think that 'fake

 During the launch, you mentioned

news' is just another term for 'spin'? And is

that a survey was done locally regarding

the term 'fake news' just a convenient way to

'fake news' and that a high percentage of

cover up unfavourable news stories?

respondents felt that it posed a threat. What sort of threats are they referring to? And,

For me fake news is information which is

what, in your opinion, can be done to curb

completely not the truth or else partially untrue.

fake news?

Spin is somewhat different and can be applied to every piece of information, even those which are

applications and guide applicants accordingly. Funding for projects starts at a couple of thousand

Fake news is a threat to citizens because it misleads

true. We need to educate the public to learn how to

euros and can go up to tens of thousands of euros.

individual opinion and decision making. We

tell fake news from real news; how to verify it and

believe that everyone has the right to freedom of

what questions to ask in order to form an opinion on a

 What are you hoping the country will

expression, and this is why it is vital that we ensure

What is the Digital News Innovation Fund?

piece of information made available to them. (M)

What type of projects are accepted?

• It is a European program that's

• It gives news organisations of

• The DNI Fund is open to for-profit organisations, non-profit

part of the Google News Initiative

all sizes the space to innovate and

organisations and individuals who aim to produce original and


trustworthy journalism.

• To date, it has awarded more than

• Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact

• It helps journalism thrive in the digital age • It has committed €150m over three years to the European news ecosystem

€94m to over 460 projects in 29 European countries

on the production of original digital journalism and on the future sustainability of the news business. Projects need to be time-framed. • Projects must demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or maybe even change the way users consume digital news.

ISSUE (48)

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With a long list of structural reforms projected, South Africans are impatient for results. Can the economy be turned around quickly enough?



Who would be in Cyril Ramaphosa’s shoes? When

that economic growth could pick up faster than

economy grew by 2.5 per cent but had slowed

he took over from Jacob Zuma as the head of the

forecast if – and it is a big ‘if ’ - the right structural

down to just 0.6 per cent in 2016. In 2017,

ruling African National Congress in December,

reforms were implemented.

defying forecasts of a recession, the economy

and as president of South Africa two months after that, he was expected to be able to walk on water.

The cabinet has fresh new faces, replacing ministers who had been implicated in corruption,

No one expected that Zuma would go without a

and Ramaphosa sent a strong message to the

fight, but he had survived so many attempts to

markets by reappointing Nhlanhla Nene – who

unseat him that he seemed immortal, invincible.

had been fired by Zuma - as finance minister.

Surely only a politician with superhero powers could have succeeded?

Various state corporations have new boards but

actually grew by 1.3 per cent – showing that confidence was picking up even before Zuma was ousted - and is forecast to grow by 2 per cent in 2020, a rate it hasn’t seen since 2013.

Inflation slowed to an almost three-year low of

there are many more changes needed in state-

4 per cent in February, and the Central Bank

owned enterprises to be made to send a message of

believe this will stay within the 3-6 per cent

good governance.

band until at least the end of 2020.

The new president resisted a populist approach

The unemployment rate stands stubbornly at 27

The first signs were positive, at least currency

and his budget will hike taxes to bring the bloated

per cent. This is largely due to the depressing

wise, with the rand recovering 9 per cent from the

fiscal deficit under control. Ramaphosa has also

decline net FDI position, from 22.6 per cent

dizzying plummets of the past two years. Credit

promised a zero tolerance approach to corruption:

in 2010 to -30.9 per cent in 2017, with all that

but will it be enough? Certainly, confidence indexes

implies for job creation and potential growth.

show that business and investors, which soared at the

One of Ramaphosa’s main challenges will be

news of his success, already have itchy feet.

to reverse the trend and give certainty – that

it is a long road between that and considering an

So what is the situation he inherited? It turns out

more beloved of factors where investors are

upgrade. However even the Reserve Bank said

that optimism had already set in. In 2013, the


But getting Zuma out of the way was only the first step in what could turn out to be a much longer battle than Ramaphosa’s supporters hoped.

rating agency Moody’s also stepped back from its threat to give a ‘junk’ label to the country’s sovereign debt – following in the footsteps of S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd - but

Kevin Lings, chief economist at Stanlib Asset Management Ltd, told Bloomberg recently that the steps taken so far have resulted in their company giving a forecast of 2 per cent growth for this year. FocusEconomics panellists, in the meantime, expect the economy to grow 1.7 per cent in 2018.

National accounts data for the fourth quarter of 2017 showed encouraging quarter-on-quarter expansion, driven by private consumption and fixed investment. In January, manufacturing output grew for the fourth consecutive month, its sharpest increase since June 2016.

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Here are the five scenarios with the percentage that PWC deems likely: Scenario 1: Mouldy mess Probability: 5%

Scenario 3: #Ramaprogress Probability: 50%

Scenario 5: Prosperity Probability: 5%

Scenario 2: Coming up short Probability: 20%

Scenario 4: The New Deal Probability: 20%

Only 5 per cent chance of prosperity, after nine endless years of Zuma? Spare a thought for Ramaphosa’s tightrope walk between real reform and appeasing the populace long enough for them to reap results…

BusinessLabs looks the business thanks to DEX As a new venture, BusinessLabs wanted to ensure that the office spaces it offered were an ideal working environment. Amongst their furniture requirements, BusinessLabs roped in DEX Workspaces to make sure it could offer the structural finishes to support the workspace. This project entailed installing glass partitions and rolling walls, along with vinyl floors, to ensure that all the space was utilised to its maximum potential. DEX needed to be involved from the very beginning, not just to complete the work, but to be an active contributor at meetings and discussions about the project: assisting

architects in working out the best layout possible to create a fully flexible workspace. From start to finish, the full delivery and installation of the products ordered by the client took only seven weeks. With the new stylish workspace completed on time, BusinessLabs is open for business, thanks to the hard work of DEX Workspaces.

So far, so good. But what lies ahead? PwC conducted a study and drew up five possible

For further information call +356 2277 3000, or visit

scenarios for the coming five years. Its economists were largely optimistic that growth would return, and that the rand would continue to recover. Out of the five scenarios, they said the most likely – with a 75 per cent probability - was that Ramaphosa would succeed in making the reforms he promised, resulting in growth of as much as 3 per cent by 2022. That percentage, however, is not going to set hearts fluttering. PWC said that economic prosperity would require a growth rate of over 4.5 per cent – which it said was “highly unlikely”. The worst-case scenarios saw little to no improvement in either job creation or economic growth. The baseline scenario – entitled #Ramaprogress – sees more success in job-creating growth. (M)

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Live sport, it’s a

WIN WIN EMIRATES ECONOMY If you love sport, you don’t have to worry about missing the US Open or the latest Premier League match. If it’s live, it’s on ice.

More to do, more to enjoy.




There’s something cathartic about new beginnings. People find arbitrary periods in their lives and decide to make them the perfect time for a new beginning. Richard Muscat Azzopardi explores.

How many times have you heard that this year will

what is needed to get you into thinking about new

We’d change things from edition to edition but, as

be the best year of your lives? Or how many people

beginnings, then so be it. It’s better than just falling

anyone who’s ever published a magazine will tell you,

put off their diet to next Monday, or to January?

into a pattern that never changes. However, you need

the only thing that keeps you sane when compiling

to understand that if you want to move forward, you

a 190-page publication every couple of months is the

need to make the next big change now.

knowledge that 120 of those pages are regular features.

Even though fixed periods help us define cycles, and cycles help us make sense of things, they are also used as crutches by most people. It would drive us crazy if our days weren’t organised into weeks, not knowing when the next break in the cycle is coming, but we need to use these wisely. By setting defined periods for reinventing ourselves (or not reinventing ourselves in any form or fashion) we can’t really make progress in life. We can’t progress within fictional periods because the world

They still need to be written, but at least you’re not I know that most people tend to be averse to change

thinking of what to write from scratch every time.

in general. I’m in the unlucky position that I thrive on change, but I’m pretty sure that too much of either

This is a model that is really useful in life in general.

one can cause problems, so in this article I’m going to

Set parameters for change, and don’t try to change

build an argument for a good hybrid.

everything at once, but also make sure that not everything stays the same at all times. At any given time

There is a golden middle ground where people can

make sure that at least one part of your organisation is

settle into a routine of reinvention. A routine that

being examined and changed for improvement.

gives you the comfort of building upon what you know, but where you learn new things constantly.

The way I approach this at Switch is by splitting up the

doesn’t work in those cycles. Your heart problems

At work, we use a trick that I learned from my

business into distinct business units - nothing original

aren’t going to wait until January to start. Your

publishing days to achieve this.

here - then I see what’s naturally in flux, see what’s

biggest competitor isn’t waiting until your January

stable and should not be rocked (at the moment) and

marketing campaign to call your dream client.

I started off my professional life in publishing. It’s

choose an area at a time to challenge. Sometimes we

Facebook isn’t waiting till next month to reinvent its

hard to think more periodical than an industry that’s

find that what is challenged should not be changed;

algorithm and change all you know about it.

defined by the very word. We had very well defined

sometimes we set off on a journey of discovery that

Don’t get me wrong: if setting a specific period is

cycles, and very little innovation within products.

changes the way we work completely.

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“Set parameters for change, and don’t try to change

everything at once, but also make sure that not everything stays the same at all times.”

This has, for example, allowed the agency to

It was a runaway success - and it helped us

the world doesn’t really care about you. It

change the way it operates completely over the

grow the business, improve the way we work

might sound harsh, but it’s true. If you’re living

past couple of years. Up to about two years

with clients and, most importantly, improve

an unhealthy lifestyle, you have two choices:

ago we operated in the same way that most

everybody’s happiness inside the agency.

change or hope for the best. Do you think your

traditional marketing agencies are set up. We had account managers who dealt with clients,

We’ve been doing this for years: when I joined

were meant to stay on top of projects and

Switch it made sense to be in a separate agency

somehow had to be creative too. We realised

that focused on digital. As the industry changed

that this was becoming a bottleneck in more

around us, Switch changed too. We merged the

ways than one. You can’t be creative while you’re

agencies and became a digital-first agency. Does

managing projects. Something's gotta give.

this mean we don’t still do traditional media? Nope, we do. However, we realised that the

So we looked at splitting the roles. It was

market was changing, so we needed to change

complicated at first, especially when you need

before our changes became reactive.

to explain to clients that the way we worked was changing. Resistance to change is natural,

And that leads me to my last point. You have to


make change a natural part of your cycles because

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body is going to have pity? Do you want to wait until it’s doctor’s orders and then have no choice? The same thing goes for business. Do you want to be the train industry in the USA hoping that people won’t switch to planes or do you want to be the company that stops making trains to make the best planes? You have a choice. Make the right one. Change fast. Change often. (M)

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THE OFFICE RENAISSANCE As an exclusive dealer of leading brand Steelcase, Oxford House is making big steps towards office furniture innovation. Brand executives Rachel Cluett and Inese Podniece share their experience with Money after a week-long visit to the Steelcase LINC centre in Munich.

Inese Podniece

Rachel Cluett

Office evolution

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What would you say is the main problem when it comes to the workplace? Everyone wants to improve their business in order to be successful. Unfortunately, only a few organisations know how to use employee engagement to their advantage. Research* states that 87% of employees around the world are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from work,

“Make your office a place

that your employees cannot wait to get to in the morning. Increase productivity by giving your worker the power of control and choice.


work cafés this year as a part of the social zone promotion which supports emotional wellbeing and also triggers impromptu meetings and idea generation. The resource zone will assist, support and guide workers across all the other four zones. It also provides easy access to shared work tools and various office supplies.

meaning that the workers are less likely to be focused and productive.

We are glad to have worked on a number of

to work and innovate every day. Feeling good at work is a bottom line issue.

Make your office a place that your employees cannot wait to get to in the morning. Increase

*2013 State of the Global Workplace Report, Gallup.

It’s important to understand the connection

productivity by giving your worker the power of

What does wellbeing have to do with

between these three aspects, so we can determine

control and choice. They must be able to choose

running a business?

how to create environments that will best support

from a palette of posture, place, presence and

the holistic wellbeing of people at work. As stated


There are a few main problems when considering

by Steelcase, “the wealth of business depends on

the wellbeing of your staff, such as absenteeism

the health of the people”.

How can the Oxford House team help?

that your employee is experiencing health

How would you describe the current

Our office furniture team enthusiastically

problems due to workplace equipment with poor

workspace culture in Malta?

promotes these positive changes. When introduced

and high staff turnover. For example, imagine

to a new project, we are excited to guide businesses

ergonomics. These are things that the worker might not realise straight away. It is a hidden need

Based on our experience from project work

and make them aware of the importance of

that must be identified within the initial stages of

and clients, an office layout is commonly

employee engagement in order to improve the

planning your office. Steelcase WorkSpace Futures

understood as having two major zones, i.e.

overall success of the company.

researchers have been studying these needs.

residential and meeting. In addition to this, the concept of strict hierarchy is slowly phasing out

Visiting the Steelcase LINC Centre in Munich has

as collaboration becomes a key word mode in

helped us better understand not just the products

today’s work life. Furthermore, advancing work

in detail, but also the concept behind them. We

Studies show that there are three major aspects of

methods and technology nowadays require many

appreciate the good relationship that we have

wellbeing. Most commonly, the physical condition

improvements to be made this current workspace

with our Steelcase contacts, who always make it a

is the first one that comes to mind. This would


point to help where needed. It is exciting to have

What are the findings of this research?

the opportunity to implement these developing

include - and is not limited to - movement and ergonomics, static sitting, slow metabolism, weight

How are we going to take Malta’s current

concepts and technologies to optimise the local

gain, back and neck pain as well as distraction.

situation to the next level?


workspaces. We believe that this is the right time

When planning the layout of an office, five zones

There is a clear correlation between employee

to make a positive change.

should be identified: resident, nomadic, social,

engagement and business performance. Take that

resource and meeting. You do not necessarily

extra step and invest some time in understanding

Everyone has a different level of performance at

need to include all zones in all cases and we

your worker’s needs and wants in order to design a

work. Cognitive wellbeing relates to the amount

understand that each project has different

workspace that augments human interaction, with

of focus, work overload and stress which can be

requirements; the idea is to create a separate

controlled through quality of life at work. This

workspace for each type of work mode. You

gives us a chance to leave the workplace thinking

may wish to be more focused and private for a

more clearly than when we arrived.

particular task, in which case you will resort to

Technology advancements also require different

an end result that benefits all. (M)

a resident zone. Alternatively your workers may With regards to emotional wellbeing, this literally

wish to collaborate on a project, which is where

translates to the motivation that we have to get

the nomadic and meeting zones come into play. ISSUE (48)

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Rolex watches are an investment for a lifetime of use. They can not only be a beautiful work of art, quality and technology but can also be a great store of value over time. Today, we are looking at how to take care of your Rolex.




Winding your watch:

When the watch is not being worn, it can be kept

The watch should not be wound on the wrist. This

in the box or on a watch winder in a dry place. This

is to avoid bending the winding stem. It is always

is to prevent the watch from humidity and from

important to remove the watch from your wrist

dust. The watch should not be kept in a very hot

and then wind it accordingly.

over time. Use a soft, clean and non-scratch cloth –

To start the winding, unscrew the crown and

if you need one, come over to any of our boutiques

wind it about 30 times. When finished, it is

and we will give you one for free.

important to screw the crown back down to ensure waterproofness. Also, bear in mind that shaking the watch has the same effect as winding from the crown. It is very important to wind the watch after

After exposing the watch to sea or pool water, it is important to rinse the watch well to avoid corrosion of the metal bracelet. This will remove chlorine and salt water. It is not recommended to

When washing the watch, it is important to make sure that the crown is tightly screwed into the case, that the crystal/glass is not broken to avoid any

and humid atmosphere since this might damage it

Best practice for the best care:

Cleaning your Rolex:

it has stopped to build up a sufficient reserve of power after it has not been in use.

water entering the movement; • Use lukewarm water with soap and a smooth toothbrush; • Leather straps can be cleaned with a leather cleaner; • Rinse the watch well and gently pat the watch using a soft cotton cloth.

Water resistance levels of Rolex watches:

use the watch in saunas or hot baths since these affect the watch. Also, it is not recommended to wear any perfumes or body creams on the wrist since these chemicals might tarnish the colour of the watch and damage the strap (especially when the watch is yellow gold). To avoid further scratches and knocks on the bezel and on the crystal/glass, it is important to make sure that the size of the watch is a good fitting on the wrist. To ensure optimal performance of the watch, it is recommended to have it serviced after 5 years,

Rolex Datejust up to 100m Rolex Submariner Date up to 300m Rolex SeaDweller up to 1220m Rolex Deepsea up to 3900m

For more information about the current Rolex models in stock, visit

depending on the condition and performance of the watch.

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Behold the Beauty Money will make you fall in love with beautiful things. Magic Leap One Creator Edition The first product to come out of the Google-backed augmentedreality startup, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition AR headset looks like a pair of full-on goggles straight out of a steampunk universe. It includes a set of Lightwear smart glasses, a battery pack belt and a controller. Unlike other AR headsets, the Leap One projects a full 3D image onto your retinas, which can be focused on in the same way that real objects can. No prices yet but shipping starts this year.

Red Hydrogen In addition to making cameras for Hollywood movies and shows, Red will release its first phone, scheduled to ship out in Q1 of 2018. Known as the Red Hydrogen and highly anticipated by cinema and photography buffs alike, the Android phone will feature a 5.7-inch screen with "holographic" display modes and modular capabilities.


But it won’t be cheap: The Hydrogen will cost around €1,400 for the titanium variant or €1,100 for the aluminium alloy model.

Tugging at every '80s kid's nostalgic strings, Atari is releasing the Ataribox, a reboot of its popular Atari 2600 console. The refreshed

console will run Linux, come in two designs (wood, black-and-red glass) and includes both classic and new games. It'll also have ports for USB, HDMI and SD connections. It’s expected to cost around €250-300.

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Tesla's solar roof tiles Power your house with solar energy and you can expect to see more of them this coming year. The tiles sell for

Oculus Go

around €45-55 each. Four designs variants

Facebook's Oculus Go is a standalone headset that

are available; Textured,

doesn't need a PC or phone to get going. It features

Smooth, Tuscan and

a 2,560x1,440-pixel LCD display, built-in speakers,


a headphone jack and a motion controller with 3 degrees of freedom.

Homepod How long does it take for Apple to release a speaker with Siri? A while, apparently. Introduced in June and delayed until early 2018, the HomePod will be Apple's answer to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home smart home speakers. In addition to having Siri baked in, it will send messages, play music from Apple Music and work with Apple's HomeKit platform. It will cost around €450.

Google Clips Priced at around €250 and coming "soon”, Google Clips is an AI-powered, 12-megapixel camera that, in short, takes photos for you. It uses machine learning with facial recognition to instantly take pictures and short videos. It can clip to anywhere you like and it learns, over time, what to take pictures of, the camera on the lookout for smiles, movement and familiar faces. It'll also recognize your pet too. All the content lives on the camera and it doesn't need an internet connection or a phone to work. ISSUE (48)

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TAKING YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER Guns don’t kill people, say the apologists, people kill people. Nevertheless, getting in close and stabbing or strangling is a lot harder and the victim can actually fight back.

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With tiresome, predictable and tragic reliability, someone


the shooter who, in many cases either killed himself or was killed.

somewhere in the US armed to

Disgruntled, possibly marginalised due to a lack of

the teeth with weaponry that

social and emotional skills, they resorted to killing.

nobody needs in civilian life drags his teetering-on-the-edge personality to a spot he (94% are male) considers the source of real or imagined slights and proceeds to tear human flesh apart with streams of bullets out of a high-powered rifle.

(Right on cue as I wrote this we had the breaking news about the Google shooter, ironically in light of my previous comment, female: the exception which proves the rule). Outside this niche, the numbers are staggering. The total number of gun-related deaths over roughly the same period of time that has passed since the University of Texas spree (1968 - 2016) is north of 1.5 million and, sadly, counting. It should be pointed out that homicides account for one third of

The latest in ‘soft’ targets are too frequently kids in schools. These perpetrators are essentially unable to go face to face with anyone they have a grievance with, although many are quite prepared to die themselves as they dispense death to others, so prefer a victim or victims that won’t fight back.

this number while suicide makes for two thirds. Oh well, then, that’s only half a million murders over the 50 years, someone might soothe. That’s 10,000 a year. But there is no number that’s okay, is there? Or age? Twenty children between the ages of six and seven (and six adults plus the killer’s mother) at Sandy Hook Elementary School were slaughtered.

A location with a congregation gathered, a semi-automatic weapon for maximum fire power and no real security to hinder access. Churches, schools and unsuspecting crowds fit the bill quite nicely.

Thirteen high schoolers at Columbine (plus another two dozen wounded) - in 1999. Coming up to 19 years this April 20. It was supposed to be the line after which, no more. Guns don’t kill people, say the apologists, people kill

Fifty-two years ago, a 25-year-old student at the

people. Nevertheless, getting in close and stabbing

University of Texas in Austin positioned himself

or strangling is a lot harder and the victim can

atop the UT observation deck with a number of

actually fight back. So much easier to apply a gentle

rifles and proceeded to open fire on the people be-

squeeze to a trigger (because even an automatic

low. The night before he had killed his wife and his

weapon can’t fire of its own volition, at least so far)

mother and during the 90 minutes it took for a cop

and send a stream of hot lead from a safe distance.

and a civilian to shoot and kill him, he dispatched

The ever popular AR15 can easily spit out 400 hun-

14 and injured 31 people. After an autopsy, it was

dred rounds in a minute, although sustaining this

suggested that a brain tumour they discovered

rate will quickly cause overheating. Which is why

might have caused his long-term violent impulses.

the Vegas shooter deployed multiple weapons by the way. ‘But’, say the gun defenders, ‘the 2nd Amend-

The stereotype of a mailman climbing a water-tower

ment guarantees the right to bear arms’.

became a grim joke for a while and gave rise to the

It’s short, almost curt: “A well-regulated militia, be-

phrase ‘going postal’. A term that took hold to de-

ing necessary to the security of a free State, the right

scribe grabbing a weapon and venting one’s fury by

of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be

killing people at the workplace, often from a vantage

infringed.” Seems simple enough. There’s a right to

point. For some reason there was a splurge of these

have a weapon against the eventuality of the citizen-

incidents occurring in postal or other shipping

ry needing to form a militia. But, arms as in single

facilities. Between 1975 and 2017, there were 26

shot musket? Flintlock pistol? Security against gov-

such incidents resulting in 61 deaths not counting

ernment, rebels or invaders? Has anybody noticed

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what a modern army has at its disposal? Even police

do it. Then after the October 2017 shooting of 57

fact that while politicians figuratively ducked for

departments rumble around in left-over tanks. The

concert goers in Vegas there was another movement

cover from the National Rifle Association’s snipers,

Founders could no more conceive of the furious

towards banning bump stocks, a device retro-fitted

and remained as tight lipped as they could about

race towards more and more lethal weapons than of

to rifles that uses the recoil of one shot to trigger the

any word that could be construed as supporting

Armstrong hopping off the Lander’s ladder onto the

next, effectively turning a semiautomatic into full

improved gun control, the surviving students did

dusty surface of Selene’s domain.

automatic. Despite the Attorney General working

not. They organised, they walked. They walked to

on legislation, it’s unlikely to make it through. DOA

the Florida State Legislature and shamed the recal-

at the DOJ.

citrants among them to go along with precautionary

A more realistic approach can be adopted which can maintain the practicality of self-defence and the freedom to safely own a gun. The debate has raged

measures. Raising the minimum age for purchases, Okay, back to my opening lines. On Valentine’s Day

waiting periods, background checks, banning bump

this year, one of those desperately disillusioned I

stocks and looking into a buyer’s mental health.

referred to above (a former student at the school)

They’ve marched on Washington DC and flooded

entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in

the media with coherent intelligent discourse. Cor-

Parkland, Florida killing 17 and wounding 17 more

porations have started distancing themselves from

with an AR15. The details are sadly, well known. A

the NRA. Bank of America has declared that it will

hundred shots in under five minutes, his attempt at

not provide loans going towards the manufacture of

sneaking out with the evacuating students, the fail-

‘military style weapons’. In the face of NRA-encour-

ban of 1994, which had expired in 2004. Despite

ure of the deputy assigned as the school resource of-

aged ridicule these civic minded young folk started

talk of renewing it then, a move President Bush was

ficer to attempt to engage. Maybe because he ‘feared

a movement with echoes that will ring through to

supportive of, Congress couldn’t muster the will to

for his life’. But what has also come out of this is the

and will continue to do so with the Supreme Court tending to support this right, but society cannot stand idle as the carnage continues without setting some safeguards in place. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting there was a call, supported by the Obama Administration, for more efficient background checks and renewing the assault weapons


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the November mid-term elections. (M)





Go with confidence. Up to Gigabit internet speed and unlimited calls to all local mobile and fixed numbers. We’re so confident we’re offering a 120-day trial. For complete peace of mind.

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Sunshine scattered with clouds

Just when you thought things were settling down from last year’s elections, along comes the threat of a trade war and repurcussions from the war in Syria. Alex Mangion reports.

The International Monetary Fund has in recent weeks descibed its outlook for the economy’s short term future as optimistic, though it warned of black clouds looming over the horizon. While the principal reasons appear to be the end of fiscal stimulus by central banks as well as an increase in interest rates, geo-political instability might be playing, once again, an important role.

Geo-political instability

These comments reverberate strongly against the background of increased economic tension between China and the US, which has created an uncertain climate for big business and supply chains all over the world. In a strongly worded hint to the US government, the IMF recalled that history has taught that protectionism ultimately hurts consumers, particularly the most vulnerable ones, with more expensive products, less choice and reduced technological innovation.

significant risks for world economic recovery.

According to Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, governments can challenge these risks and turn them into opportunities if they heed three important pieces of advice: avoid protectionism, strengthen the financial system further, and introduce iniatitives that spur further economic growth in the long term - rather than policy decisions bound by the limitations of electoral mandates.

tends to spike prices of the black gold. Added to that, the US-China trade “game” is

As indicated, this fragility is caused by other

taking a turn for the worse. The Americans

factors too. The outbreak of global commercial

imposed a series of tariffs on a number of

tensions and the nightmare scenario of possible

Chinese imports, with China responding by

conflict between the US and Russia over Syria pose

announcing tariffs on US imports. If this

It is therefore not surprising that investors are asking once again where growth is going to come from. The issue is that business (and economic) confidence can be lost within days, yet it is the blood supply of the global economy. Confidence means that consumers feel safe and positive about their prospects in terms of salaries, jobs and general well-being. From a business perspective this means these feel secture about putting capital into investment and production. The economic mood was indeed positive into the last half of 2017 and the start of this year. However, recent

escalates, tensions could go well beyond taxes and disrupt global supply chains. This could have a lasting impact, with companies having to relocate factories or distribution centres. Investment decisions affect employment and can be more disruptive than the imposition of restrictive measures like quotas or taxes. This escalation would be damaging for the both US and Chinese economies since global companies invest in both countries. It is still to be seen how far US President Donald Trump will take this.

activities turned confidence upside down, and the early signs of strain are already showing.

For the moment, the jury is still out on which

Worries of weaker trade, the Syrian escalation,

way events may turn. The global economic

and the ever-present Brexit dilemma pose big

rebound is continuing and other factors, such as


the growth experienced by emergent economies,

Europe’s business sentiment indices have been The IMF indicates that growth should be positive in 2018 and 2019, albeit at lower rates than the past two years. However, it signals a big red alert on the ballooning deficits many countries are registering, which in 2017 reached a staggering $164 trillion, a 40 per cent increase since 2007. China alone is

hitting record highs thanks to the the European

responsible for half of this increase.

the wider Middle East is the world’s largest

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exporter of crude oil and tension in the region

Central Bank’s stimulus package but there are suddenly indications that the momentum is starting to lose traction. Oil prices rose more than 10 per cent during the days preceding the strikes, While Syria itself is not a significant oil producer,

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is making up for lost business. Also, some investors are hoping that improved diplomatic efforts as well as political (electoral) pressures could lead to a breakthrough on the trade front and the crisis in the Middle East. Once this hope is lost, however, it might be the finish line for global recovery and financial instability will return. (M)

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