Page 1


2020 I ISSUE 1


Dana Farrugia, chief executive officer at, discusses the various roles of the relatively new entity. P22



Hon. Clayton Bartolo P10 >> TRADE



Why Malta?

Truevo’s incredible journey P26 >> COVID-19





Prof. Matthew Montebello P62 >> TECH


Invest in creativity P70 In association with




D A N A FA R R U G I A Chief executive officer, Read the full interview on page 22


elcome to the first issue of Tech.mag, the magazine dedicated to supporting and its role in taking Malta’s tech industry to another level. Technology is no longer seen as something new or only for the younger generations – it has infiltrated all our lives and it would be challenging to imagine our daily existence without the devices and conveniences that technology has provided.

Of course, it is an industry that never stops developing and improving – oftentimes too fast for us to keep up – and while it has changed the world making it faster and more efficient in places, that rapid pace of life is also a downfall that has led to burnout and stress from a psychological point of view, and feelings of inadequacy from a financial and sometimes age-biased aspect. Nevertheless, embracing technology is clearly the preferred way forward as is evident from the Covid-19 pandemic that engulfed the world. The global village that we were used to was overturned in a matter of weeks; however, technology was seen as the solution to adapt and keep going. People were able to work from home thanks to laptops, VPNs and cloud storage solutions; students were able to resume lessons from home thanks to various meeting software solutions, and the media was always at hand to provide news and entertainment as people were confined to their houses. We’ve always been fascinated with the future and what lies beyond; from cartoons like The Jetsons to series such as Star Trek and films like Back to the Future – the common denominator in all three is that they all involved technology. Certainly, some of it was extremely ‘out there’; however, when you consider that the first computer was invented less than 100 years ago and required the space of a whole room, and now we can fit a much more highly advanced device in our pocket, perhaps it’s not as far-fetched as we imagine. Technology has built industries (and closed others), but it has always led people to be innovative. Whether in themselves or in their work, those people who can adapt and use technology to their benefit, rather than seeing it as an adversary are those who have succeeded and will continue to do so.


Anthony P. Bernard DESIGN

Kurt Micallef PRINTING

Print It Tech.mag is hand-delivered to businesses in Malta, including all managers and directors of the TOP 300 companies. iGaming, yachting and boating businesses, marina’s, all 5-star hotels and boutique guesthouses including their business centres, executive lounges and rooms (where allowed), embassies and Maltese embassies abroad (UK, Rome, Brussels and Moscow). All government ministries and entities.

Publishing • Marketing No 81, Howard Street, Sliema, Malta SLM 1754 Tel: (+356) 2134 2155 Email: @tech.magbymoney

Enjoy the read and stay safe!


Tech.mag is published by Be Communications Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed within Tech.mag 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.




The all-new XPS 13 laptop is meticulously constructed with machined aluminum and a carbon fiber (woven glass) palm rest, and features a stunning 16:10 4-sided InfinityEdge display. INTERCOMP.COM/XPS13


Dell authorised service centre

Visit one of our outlets:

• The Point Shopping Mall, Sliema

• Centerparc, Qormi

• The Plaza Shopping Centre, Sliema

• Triq Aldo Moro, Marsa

• PAMA Shopping Mall, Mosta


CONTRIBUTORS DAYNA CLARKE is a senior speech therapist by day and feature-writer by night. When she’s not busy fixing words, she is travelling the world to add to her fridge magnet collection.

JP FABRI is a founding partner at Seed, a boutique advisory practice. An economist by profession, he is also a visiting assistant lecturer at the University of Malta.

GISELLE BORG OLIVIER is a freelance writer, proofreader and social media marketer who survives on Instagram and cappuccino.



DAVID DEBONO is a marketing superhero by day, who enjoys baking, hiking, and all things cultural. By night, he has a penchant for making tequila-fuelled poor life choices. Forever alone, David lives with his two feline terrorists, Cosmo and Milo – a true crazy cat person in the making.

THEO DIX is a manager at EY providing strategy consultancy and transaction advisory services. He supported the Malta.AI Taskforce in its work to develop a National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence and formed part of the ‘Investment, Startups and Innovation AI Working Group’.

CONRAD BUTTIGIEG is an economist by profession with over a decade of experience in digital marketing and fashion. He now splits his energy between his two passions: tech and fashion.

CAROLIN HYZYK & SIMON LUMSDEN Carolin, one of the directors and head of business development at Keen Ltd, is best described as a seasoned communication strategist and German Project Manager. Simon, Keen’s head of content, has held senior positions in Maltese and British media for more than 20 years, and is an online content expert.

Bike Personal is the latest product form Technogym’s Personal Line, a collection of iconic products for Home Wellness. Inspired by science and nature, Personal Line’s sleek design is the result of the collaboration between Technogym, with its three-decades of research experience in developing fitness and wellness products, and world-renowned designer and architect Antonio Citterio.

Vivendo, Mdina Road, Qormi QRM 9011 T. 2277 3000 E.


ISSUE 10 16 22 >> T R A D E

>> C O V E R S T O R Y

Line of sight

A window of opportunity

Giselle Borg Olivier spoke with architect David Xuereb, president of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, about the Chamber’s Economic Vision 2020 and their collaboration with

Giselle Borg Olivier speaks to Dana Farrugia, chief executive officer of, to get a deeper insight of the roles of the relatively new entity.

26 30 >> I N V E S T M E N T

>> I N T E R V I E W

Time to Truevo

Road to success

Dayna Clarke caught up with chief executive officer David Liu to find out why Truevo set up shop within the Maltese Islands and their incredible journey to date.

Dayna Clarke interviews David Vella, co-founder and chief executive officer at Altaro Software, a fast-growing Maltese company with an international reach.

>> G O V E R N M E N T

Malta’s digital economy

Giselle Borg Olivier interviews Hon. Clayton Bartolo, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy about the current state of affairs in Malta.

32 34 >> I N T E R V I E W

>> C O V I D - 1 9

Detecting threats

Working through quarantimes

Dayna Clarke meets Reaqta, chief executive officer and founder Alberto Pelliccione, a leading provider of AIbased cybersecurity solutions capable of addressing highly sophisticated threats.

Dayna Clarke speaks to David Darmanin, chief executive officer at Hotjar, on how the global analytics provider is coping with Covid-19.

38 42 >> T E C H

>> S T A R T - U P

An appetite for apps

The use in usability

Dayna Clarke speaks to Simon Debono, chief officer, marketing and business development at eCabs; Jason Degiorgio, founder and chief executive officer at Delivify; Belal El Sherif, operations manager at Fetchit/ Time to Eat, to discuss the challenges and changing picture of Malta’s food delivery and mobility services in terms of emerging technologies and COVID-19.

Tech.mag speaks to UK-born Kelby Garside who started Malta’s first UX design studio, Use Ability.

44 48 52 54 >> B A N K I N G

>> O V E R V I E W


>> A N A L Y S I S

Banking blues

Legal technicality

AI will captha the world

The truth behind 5G

Talk to any professional in corporate or financial services and the biggest pain point anyone will mention is opening a bank account in Malta. JP Fabri explains.

Giselle Borg Olivier speaks to Joseph J Borg, partner at WH Partners and Ian Gauci, managing partner at GTG Advocates about the state of the tech industry in Malta, its strengths and its weaknesses.

Theo Dix on the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new to us at all as we experience it in our daily lives when we are online by means of AI applications already in use today.

David Debono gives a deep insight on 5G and what lies beneath.

56 60 62 68 >> P O S T - C O V I D

>> E U R O P E

>> E D U C A T I O N

>> A P P L I C A T I O N S

Moving forward stronger

Eyes on AI

Fixing the skills gap

Stress busters

Simon Lumsden and Carolin Hyzyk share 10 tips on how Maltese businesses can get back on their feet and step up their game following the Covid-19 saga.

Tech.mag delves into the new European Commission’s human-centric approach to AI after it proposed to introduce legislation in this sector in a bid to uphold EU values.

Professor Matthew Montebello discusses with Dayna Clarke the rising need in the skills required for the phenomenal growth of AI, at an individual and business level.

64 70 72 >> T E C H


5 Days, 5 Outfits

Cutting-edge design, advanced technology and beautiful objects. Tech.mag helps you invest in creativity. >> I D E A S

Taking off

Tech.mag explores Take Off, the business incubator based at the University of Malta which helps aspiring entrepreneurs to be successful.

How to dress up to work from home.

Tech.mag gives a rundown of the apps available for download that are sure to get that load off your chest, especially during a crisis.






Malta’s digital economy Giselle Borg Olivier interviews Hon. Clayton Bartolo, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy about the current state of affairs in Malta when it comes to the economy, human resources, the tech sphere – and what has been done in the midst of the pandemic.


t is no secret that the financial services are a strong pillar within the Maltese economy and adding to this new technology is being added to the mix. Is this sustainable, and are the financial services still relevant for the jurisdiction? The financial services industry has, over the years, played a significant role in driving and sustaining Malta’s buoyant economic sector. As a Government, we are committed to further strengthening and consolidating this sector, which is regarded as a key pillar of the Maltese economy. In terms of sustainability, given the unprecedented times that we face, I have stressed on the importance of achieving and pursuing economic diversification to ensure a more sustainable and resilient economy and be in a better position to mitigate risk. This economic vision can be materialised through ongoing work that is dedicated to further strengthening Malta’s drive as a Centre of Excellence while laying the groundwork for new niche economic sectors to relocate their operations locally and further boost our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). MONEM Y ONEY



What does Malta have to offer to tech companies over other jurisdictions? As a Government, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that we attract new niche economic sectors and ensure that such start-ups/ firms are provided with the necessary tools to strive and grow sustainably. This modus operandi has always been enshrined in my holistic and overarching vision aimed at boosting the digital economy industry in Malta. There are several incentives which tech companies can make use of and benefit from when relocating locally, such as Malta’s favourable and highly reputable tax regime. We have also introduced sandbox ecosystems whereby start-ups can test their products and be in a better position to roll-out their products thereafter. Apart from investing our time to ensure and consolidate FDI, we have also set out on a mission to attract talent –


highly qualified individuals – and to address skills shortages that may be present in certain industries given the limited size and resources of the island. AI is gaining ground in the tech world and is becoming more mainstream. Do you see it infiltrating the local market positively? We aimed to position ourselves as trailblazers in the digital economy industry, and AI was a crucial component that we considered and introduced over the past years. Concerning AI, we were amongst the first jurisdictions to recognise the full potential that this technology had to offer and have set up an entity – Malta Digital Innovation Authority - that focuses specifically on such means of technology. It is also worthy to mention that we will soon begin rolling out AI-related projects in various sectors such as health, education, transport etc., as part of

the Government’s digital transformation. I look forward to embracing and tapping into the potential, opportunities and benefits that AI has to offer. There is a known lack of personnel in the tech space in Malta – what, if anything, is being done to solve this issue? It is in our best interest to facilitate the process for tech specialists to come and reside in Malta. For instance, through an initiative spearheaded by Identity Malta - entitled as the Key Employee Initiative - individuals working in the tech-industry are eligible for a fast-tracked procedure when applying for dual residency/employment permit. Apart from that, as a country, we have also provided tax incentives for qualified individuals should they choose to relocate their operations locally. We are committed to further incentivising open working MONEY

spaces and hubs. This would be highly beneficial for startups and SMEs, especially in the development phase of their business ventures to improve their networking and mentoring environment. Given the current international issues of COVID-19, what measures are being put in place to safeguard businesses? When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out the Maltese Government was quick to act, and in fact, we announced a financial package aimed at providing a financial lifeline to businesses that were experiencing liquidity problems since their operations came to an abrupt halt. The government launched the COVID-19 Guarantee to provide favourable loan facilities to companies facing a sudden and acute liquidity shortage precipitated by the said pandemic. Secondly, we wanted to eliminate


As a Government, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that we attract new niche economic sectors and ensure that such startups/ firms are provided with the necessary tools to strive and grow sustainably.

prospective redundancies through the Wage Supplement Scheme which was administered by Malta Enterprise. We even assisted and further incentivized ongoing operations for teleworking, through the Teleworking Equipment grant. The tech industry is booming due to a lot of work moving online due to COVID-19. Have local businesses been positively affected by this? Are there initiatives in place to maintain and support this increased workflow? This pandemic has catalysed e-commerce and e-business to thrive. Several local businesses moved their operations online within a span of a few weeks, to be able to cater to their customers’ needs and respect the instructions put forward by the health authorities. This shift is also reflective of the consumers’ tastes, with

practicality and convenience being everyone’s priority. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to invest in an online system, and whilst recognising and considering all the obstacles being faced, we envisage on further incentivising and providing the needed aid to such companies. We are committed to working with industry stakeholders to develop a post-COVID-19 strategy that would include a digital economic mind-set for every local enterprise. It has often been mentioned that Malta needs to diversify its economic niches. Can you explain what is being done? The unprecedented times we experienced over the past months further highlighted Malta’s overdependence on a limited number of sectors. Tourism, which contributes largely to the Maltese GDP, got bruised during the pandemic. MONEY

Such temporary closure of a crucial component that drives our GDP led to an abrupt halt in the operations of several businesses and individuals. The only way to mitigate this risk of being over-dependent on a small number of sectors is to adopt a strategy which focuses and builds on economic diversification. In investment, many experts in the industry would argue that the best way to mitigate the risk is to diversify your investment portfolio so that theinvestor would not shoulder the full burden of a shock in one investment. The same principles apply to economic growth, and, together with my team, I am driven to consolidating current sectors and attracting new niche industries to operate from Malta. In pursuing such a strategy, we would be future-proofing our economy and ensuring a more sustainable and resilient economic growth. 13









PA R K T O W E R S M A L L B O R G O L I V I E R S T R E E T, S T J U L I A N ’ S




Psaila Street, Santa Venera t. 2148 0807

Gorg Borg Olivier Street, St Julian’s t. 2137 8520

Spinola Park, St Julian’s t. 2138 1055



Line of SIGHT




outside the box and not be afraid of making mistakes or failing, will lead to success. Malta does not have that DNA and we are therefore asking all the stakeholders in our economy to contribute to this mindset. Moving on to the topic of sustainable… anything that we do cannot be short-lived. There are many business opportunities that could be exciting and earn us some good money just for a while, while potentially disrupting other people’s quality of life or nature’s equilibrium, only to find out that it’s short-lived, unsupported, potentially being criticized and therefore unsustainable.

Giselle Borg Olivier spoke with architect David Xuereb, president of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, about the Chamber’s Economic Vision 2020 and their collaboration with

One of the strategic principles outlined in the 2020-2025 Economic Vision is innovation and technology that is tangible and sustainable – what can/will businesses do to achieve this? First, we need to have the mindset, policies and regulations in the country that would motivate outside the box thinking, innovation, research, and everything that enables us to be creative and different… and disruptive. The setting therefore needs to be that, and we are not there at all. In terms of innovation and creativity, Malta is very poor, and when we study other countries, we see that their opportunity for growth and development stems from this. Therefore, having the right mindset, the right infrastructure, and the right ecosystem for people to think

We have taken a number of initiatives in Malta as of late that have earned us money but that have not been thought out appropriately; they have been launched too fast for them to be embraced by everybody including the international community and therefore haven’t allowed us to capture the benefits of those industries over the long term. We’ve been criticised, we have had to defend, we needed to redraft – all these things are not sustainable. Family businesses in Malta are an integral part of our business ecosystem; they need to adapt and ensure that their businesses survive generation after generation, while also being profitable for the family and potentially shareholders. In this case, sustainability is also about ensuring that policies and laws support the natural shortcomings of family businesses because those are a very strong pipeline of intrapreneurship in Malta. The Chamber of Commerce has a family business committee, which we run MONEY

together with the Ministry of the Economy, that’s mainly populated by members of the Chamber of Commerce. It was also the subject matter of our National Conference two years ago when we celebrated our 170th anniversary – we thought it fit that family business should be the topic of the day, because we were focusing on the sustainability of business in work. So here we are again two years later with our economic vision talking about sustainability and vision development, which are fundamental to a vision of moving forward which makes us stronger than we are today and coming back and ensuring that we have the right infrastructure for that. You mentioned that recently there were certain projects that were handled and short-lived – could you give examples of those? For example, the IIP scheme – I’m not criticising the IIP scheme per se because we have said that the IIP scheme has brought a lot of value to Malta. It is a rigorous system that has been criticised, maybe unfairly to some extent, because we have not all been singing from the same hymn sheet, and the packaging and the way the scheme was presented was wrong. So, although we have an opportunity to develop a product for revenue generation for the country that will earn serious money to our members and to the people in general, the IIP scheme will eventually contribute towards pensions, because the packaging and manner with which it was sold wasn’t ideal, it brought not only a lot of weight onto the scheme, but also bad press and a bad reputation to Malta. The Chamber has criticised 17


the Government for putting us in a situation where we need to reengineer this and the Government has acknowledged this. It has also asked for the Chamber’s contribution to ensure that the new scheme is structured, packaged and presented in a manner that is consistent with what is expected out of the apolitical objective population of this world. Ultimately, the new scheme needs to be clearly separated from the old one to ensure that the message given to those people who have maybe started to doubt whether Malta’s jurisdiction is the right place to conduct their business, understand that we have extracted and addressed the shortcomings from the previous scheme and we now present a new scheme which we are proud of.

quality means, whether it is tourism, construction, or manufacturing; whether it is the quality of the cleanliness of our environment, the quality of our landscape, the quality of our agriculture – all of those things that contribute towards a sustainable and smart economy.

mistakenly thinking that we’re growing the economy because we have larger numbers. The sustainability of growth is not just about the numbers but also about how to retain the people that we attract to Malta to be able to contribute in a more effective, more economical, and therefore sustainable manner.

We also need to talk about resources – it is it is not enough to talk about how to manage the large number of resources that come to our country, or whether we are preparing our local resources to adapt appropriately to our ever-evolving economy. But rather, how prepared are we to ensure that the different cultures working in our economy feel comfortable and accepted?

Another principle that was mentioned was the issue of human capital – are we generating the kind of skills and quality that is needed in the workplace?

Although we are surrounded with other schemes in the world that are less qualitative and whose due diligence is poor to say the least, we are the ones who have packaged our scheme in a rush and in a manner which was too aggressive, and have therefore caught the attention of those people who are jealous of our economic performance potentially and also think to harm our country for reasons, which we do not appreciate.

People need to be trained and sensitised to ensure that there is alignment or appreciation of the difference of cultures between people coming from the Far East, Africa, Europe – wherever their origin – to the Maltese culture and the Maltese business lines. Because we are not doing this well enough, we have a human resource turnover every 1824 months which means that there’s a lot of wastage not only in the cost of recruitment, but also in the cost of training, the cost of adjustment, and the cost of ensuring that we have understood each other. That is a serious drain on the resources of our country with us

When we talk about quality we need to ensure that the people speaking about quality are people who understand what 18


During our Economic Vision session, we not only had the 27 top operators, CEOs and managing directors of the industry, but also the rector of the University of Malta and the principal of MCAST. The common theme was the concern of the mismatch between the requirements of the industry, and, even worse, what we think is needed in the future, compared to what is being produced through our education system. And I don’t necessarily imply solely University or MCAST, I’m also referring to what is being done in our primary and secondary schools. When we see that the worlds of AI, blockchain, 3D printing, quantum physics require people who think outside the box and are able to combine their knowledge of soft skills, communication skills, artistic skills, we realise how the


thematics of our primary and secondary schools, in the form of standard subjects, implies that this mismatch between supply and demand is growing every day.

- honesty, integrity, the good governance side of life. This is what our education system needs to be doing and this is, in my opinion, a crisis moment.

This means that our competitive advantage over other countries and other players in the industry is lacking, which seriously implies that we are going to hit a brick wall.

Is this going to be the next plan of action?

We believe that it is not only up to the regulators, to the government, or to the educators to resolve this; this needs the serious partnership of the players within the business community because they are the ones who are able to envisage what is required on the industry floor in the near future. We can learn from other qualitative jurisdictions in the world, such as Singapore, which looks at education purely as an opportunity for the growth of youngsters into an industry that will keep on growing into the future – that is true sustainability. Moreover, our education system doesn’t seem to do much with respect to our need for good governance, therefore values – honesty, integrity, the difference between good and bad, those things that make us honest people in our society – need to find their way back into the primary and secondary school benches, with our teachers, with our leaders in education, and certainly with our peers in the society, our politicians, our business leaders, the church – all those people who can influence and therefore need to ensure that they are passing on the right message. We want our future entrepreneurs, our next business leaders, our operators - all the people that take decisions all the time, to be able to take those decisions in light of the core values that are important

Absolutely. The Chamber of Commerce is putting together a thematic committee; the way the Chamber’s business will be conducted over the next years will change. We don’t feel that it is just a matter of passing the buck to a minister or a prime minister, or to a head of an authority in Malta, but rather working with them (with our thinking, our suggestions, and our recommendations) through our thematic committees, and this is certainly one of those. You mentioned people coming over to Malta and the fact that they’re only here for 18 months or two years at the most, but is Malta in a position where it can really attract foreign talent? What makes it attractive? Or where is it lacking in attractiveness? The first attraction is that Malta is a beautiful country with a stable and growing economy; so for anyone who’s looking to develop his career in an environment that offers a good lifestyle for himself and his immediate family, Malta is super attractive. We should be thinking of supporting these individuals, especially those who really add a talented contribution to the country, through tax incentives and so on to make their life easier. We need to attract people to develop their skills and abilities in a business that is thriving and growing – Malta is growing this business, especially in the services sector, towards internationalisation and through tech, because tech is not just the place where


you work but how you externalize and export tech. Malta is good at that, especially with this digitisation platform, and has been for the past 20 years or so, so we want to retain this success moving forward. That’s one of the recommendations in our Economic Vision – it’s useless being great many years ago, we need to be great, always. So, if there are any changes to be made in our tech, our 5G Technologies and so on, immediate action must be taken, because that will impact our infrastructure and our best practices and would therefore attract the right talent to Malta. We’re speaking about improving productivity by optimising technology; however, are local businesses open to this? Malta tends to have a bit of an old-school mentality. Do you think that this is still prevalent or is it changing? And if so, is it changing fast enough? Here I am inspired by the younger generation members of the Chamber of Commerce which put together a Young Chamber Network, because young people are not only like-minded, but are also the ones who are able to provide energy, direction, motivation, and speed into most of the business community top processes, and technology is central to practically everything that they are working on. Tech is one of the thematic committees that the Chamber of Commerce will be championing internally at the Chamber, and has for the last year or so championed through our public-private partnership with the government in promoting Malta as a tech island to our peers abroad and ensuring that we remain at the top of our game.



When Malta decided to be the top internet country where internet was fast, we connected the internet pretty much everywhere and everybody is connected all the time today. But when this all started 20 years ago, little did we understand how important this was, not only for entertainment pourposes, but also for business. Many companies considered Malta as their jurisdiction of choice not only because of tax incentives or because it’s a beautiful island and part of the European Union, but because our tech infrastructure was so great. Over the years I think we have lost that edge, but we’re about to reinvent ourselves with the infrastructure that we provide which is not only physical infrastructure, but also talent infrastructure, and that’s why Tech. mt was considered a priority and Government thought it fit to partner with the Chamber of Commerce to ensure these objectives are met. You mentioned Malta as a tech island… Three years ago, Malta was the Blockchain Island and that seems to have fizzled out. What do you think is going to be different with Malta as a tech island? In our national business plan on tech we need to make sure that our objective is real and tangible, and for which infrastructure has been thought out. The Blockchain Island brand that we managed to promote internationally was great when we were at the point of selling, but we did not realise that it required infrastructure which is not only legal and policy driven, but also required talent and training to have blockchain really functioning in Malta. The legal and legislative side was probably the best around, but it was not enough to attract the people and the businesses that should have come to domicile themselves here. We were looked upon by our competitors, they realized what we did and were faster in ensuring that they developed the infrastructure to attract those businesses and probably beat us to it. Therefore, here we are again to have and the Chamber of Commerce focusing on tech, not only for Government but also for businesses 20

and we need to ensure that we don’t run before we can walk. Of course we are here in competition and we need to be fully prepared; hopefully we have learned from our shortcomings and we will structure for achievement.

European thing – if the bank is serious and therefore large, it would necessitate the same requirements to open a bank account. It may not be as simple as it used to be, but it’s also much more tangible, sustainable and serious.

You mentioned banks - there’s a very well-known issue when it comes to opening bank accounts for foreign companies. Do you see a solution there?

What we are missing is having more players in the local market that can serve the diverse needs of our industry. We expect the two big banks and the other two supporting banks to do it all. Banks are all about measurement of risk, and Malta, due to its small size, has small numbers and high risk – therefore a high risk for very small returns is not appealing. This is the difficulty that we have as a country.

Banks are an essential part of our life and of business. Whenever we intend to grow in any area of business, we need to ensure that there is a banking system that supports it. The Government and the nation have worked hard and invested lots of time and money in finding industries that we can move into to be creative and innovative, and to grow. But unfortunately, we were not nimble enough to have the banks on the same page, and, if our current banks are not able to support our vision, then we need to ensure that there are banking financial institutions that will. Banks need not be the traditional banks but can be other banks that are potentially not even physical. Of course, we need to have our regulators who are able to choose from these non-physical banks, but we certainly have an urgency now to be able to have the right banking systems. The European Central Bank (ECB) has become a major player in the way our banks are regulated. Most of the decisions that the banks are taking today are driven by ECB-driven policies, also on account of what happened following the financial crash in 2007 and 2008, and so what they do is right and proper. Our banks are able to operate rather efficiently and the Chamber has been asked to pinpoint customers who are potentially not happy with the service bought from banks, only to find out that most of the times those unsatisfied customers are the ones who were unable to provide the banks with the due diligence required. Commerce has conducted checks and resulted that this is not just a Malta thing, it’s a MONEY

Malta has gone through a rough patch in terms of reputation. Has there been a noticeable effect on business and investment? Yes, of course. The nation found itself in a time when the economy was doing well and we thought that things were potentially still going to keep on booming - business as usual – and, then all that happened, happened, culminating in a mess. Whatever was wrong and criminal in our country, and anything that remains to be uncovered, needs to come to the fore at the earliest possible. We have seen a change in cabinet and the Chamber of Commerce has been very vociferous in what needs to be done, but we didn’t want to just criticise from the outside, we decided to roll up our sleeves. We put together several experts in the areas of governance and we promised the incumbent (we didn’t know who it was at the time) that we were working on this. When Robert Abela was sworn in as Prime Minister he invited us to a meeting that same week where we presented our good governance document and explained that we had over 60 recommendations on what needed to be done on three levels: the government governance level, the regulation level, and the business level. We explained the detail of everything that we were thinking about and we found that the government was very appreciative of the fact that an entity such as the Chamber of Commerce, that


doesn’t necessarily have competence or interest in governance, took the leading role. We consider governance as a major risk to anything that has to do with commerce and industry. The first actions taken by the government seem to have gone down well, not only with the Chamber of Commerce members and the business community, but also with the international community. There is still much more to be done, but certainly the actions taken were serious, important, and commendable and we stated clearly that what we saw until now was relatively good, although there could have been a couple of things that could have been done better. When we talk about the Economic Vision, governance remains a key issue because it is useless talking about how we want to be sustainable, we want to grow, etc. if good governance is not part and parcel of that economic vision. We are now working to ensure that we provide the tools, the education, and sensitivity to all our members to make sure that we contribute towards a business ecosystem that ensures that we all know what we’re dealing with. Therefore, integrity and honesty are not to be taken for granted but are to be regulated through a manner driven by serious people. You presented the five-year economic vision for the Chamber of Commerce. What is the vision for the Chamber and as a collaboration? The chamber is going through a major change right now. It has drafted a business plan for its members and a business plan for itself to ensure that whatever the chamber is doing adds the maximum value to its membership – that’s #1. Number two, we have reached out to all the youngsters, and to the new technologies out there that need to form part of our overall discourse to ensure that we are completely relevant. The third is that we have looked at our statute to ensure that our actions and our business is as business-friendly and as efficient as possible. The Chamber over the next years will be focusing on its thematic committees that will be highly relevant to our members and will give life to the vision as set out in our Economic Vision document. Clearly the ‘sons and daughters’ of the Chamber –, TradeMalta, EducationMalta, Malta Business Bureau – are very important parts of the business of the chamber. We are there because we are partners; we want to make sure that each entity is fully supported, fully engaged, and fully productive because that is the value that we’re going to be adding not only to our membership but also to Malta. I am in constant contact with the directors and CEO of to ensure that all actions and decisions are taken efficiently. Is your vision, ‘Malta as a Tech Island’? Absolutely; tech can add value to Malta. Malta is an island with limited resources, apart from human capital, therefore we need to ensure that the tech infrastructure, which is no doubt a major contributor to anything we’re doing today and in the future, and the policies and legislation that support that infrastructure

CLEARLY THE ‘SONS AND DAUGHTERS’ OF THE CHAMBER –TECH.MT, TRADE MALTA, EDUCATION MALTA, MALTA BUSINESS BUREAU – ARE VERY IMPORTANT PARTS OF THE BUSINESS OF THE CHAMBER. are optimum. Therefore having all industries and all tertiary educational systems, understanding where Malta is going and how tech is supporting that, means that the decisions taken in our education, in our conversation, in our entrepreneurial choices, in our investment choices, in our policies regulations, are in the same vein. Would you say that Malta is competing against the likes of Silicon Valley? Absolutely. Why not? Tech does not need land space, it does not need high-rise buildings, it does not need infrastructure that we cannot afford because it will damage the country or take up space which we do not have. We have been very clever as a nation to always think of the next step and we all know that tech is driving the world. So why should we, being a small island where we can take decisions from today to tomorrow compared to many other countries, not place ourselves at the forefront position? MONEY




WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY Giselle Borg Olivier sat down with Dana Farrugia, chief executive officer at to learn about the relatively new entity – what has it been up to and where is it going?


MONEY was established in the 2018 budget, but it started operating in 2019 and its main function was always to promote the national strategy for technology and innovation. This encompasses the whole technology sector which includes AI, blockchain, cloud software development, business analytics, robotics, quantum and all the works – so both the regulated and the unregulated side of technology. Our main responsibility with regard to promoting national strategy is growth and stability in the sector. Malta has other sectors who have their promotional arm, like FinanceMalta for example, which promotes the finance sector, and GamingMalta does the same for the gaming industry, so when Hon. Silvio Schembri was responsible for this remit, he decided that technology deserved to have the same setup. That was our inception and we have been delving into strategic moves to identify the needs of the sector. We always felt that it would be useless to dictate the strategy ourselves and try to implement it or force it upon a sector. We do not want to

ignore the very important part our remit, which is, listening to what the sector wants. Another important facet of is to include the student sector in our strategy; to meet the demand from the sector by creating more awareness. Also, since it’s a very dynamic and innovative sector we want to hear from the generations who have been introduced to technology since birth, therefore their needs and the way they communicate is different to older generations. We want them to be included because they are the future backbone of this sector. Technology is no longer a choice, but a fundamental business strategy that must be interwoven with wider operative initiatives. In a world after COVID-19, we will continue seeing technology playing a leading role in the reshaping of entire industries and generating efficiency gains. Our main commitment at lies in pointing technology companies in the right direction. What hurdles have been encountered since its inception? I would describe them as alignment issues rather than hurdles, that is, getting all the facets aligned. I would say that the major obstacle would be human perception when it comes to technology.

Post COVID-19, your business needs to set its presence in the customer’s life, digitally

I’m talking about the technological adoption of innovation, the optimization of processes, digitalizing manual processes, and opting for out-of-the-box functionalities that will replace current manual processes – and not only by the technology sector. Statistically, in Malta we can see that the technology sector is far ahead when it comes to adopting new technologies and the other sectors are far behind. The major hurdle is a mentality issue – embracing the mindset of accepting the technology, promoting it, and adopting it. Technological adoption cannot be seen as an obstacle in itself. If there is the drive and the resources in place, then migrations from manual or semi manual to automation can easily happen. Companies in different sectoral areas are still opting for manual processes, or for processes that they have been using for the past 10-20 years – processes with multiple systems, no integration, no exploring of new technologies. Companies miss out on globalization when they do not keep up with new technologies; AI solutions can help them learn more about their customers which can help them with segmentation and targeting that can in turn reap more sales. Why do you think companies are reticent to adopt new technologies? Resistance can be for many reasons. Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown. Maybe the people who are responsible for manual processes do not understand the benefits of technology. There has to be more awareness; that is what we are trying to do. We want to show what technology is offering today, like robotic MONEY

solutions that can do a lot of the manual work once developed, and artificial intelligence solutions that can help with risk management and compliance. Moreover, these are cost-effective solutions because being specific and targeted when it comes to customers or processes hits a company’s bottom line positively. In times of turbulence and uncertainty, it is important to remember the many positive ways in which technology is connecting people, educating children and entertaining families who are now forced to stay at home. COVID-19 may be the moment that brings remote work to the mainstream, supporting the fact that with the right technology and company culture, employees can be just as productive and effective from home. What has been done in terms of attracting foreign start-ups and international companies to Malta? During the six months that we’ve been operating we participated in multiple international events where we positioned Malta as the technological hub of choice. We were perceived very positively and we got multiple leads from these initiatives. We have also been in the media to make our presence known because we needed to establish our brand and identity, as well as getting the technology sector on board, which we are still working on. We have been promoting the country during a time where it proved to be quite a feat; however, we continue to push both Malta’s reputation and the technology sector specifically at both local events and international ones. We’re also working with the private sector to help them overcome any obstacles that they may encounter, be they 23


Having been in operation since 2019, what is the vision of


either bureaucratic obstacles locally, or assisting them in making contact with specific business opportunities abroad. We have partnered with the European Enterprise Network to establish a process for companies where we can analyze their business plan and the markets that they are interested in internationally and give them advice about whether it is worthwhile to explore such markets. With these leads, what have you found to be the greatest challenges? Last year, unfortunately, our major hurdle was the state of the country’s reputation. People were more interested in what was happening in the country rather than whether we were successful or not, although our numbers spoke for themselves. Our economic performance was still exceeding expectations, the growth in the technology sector was very strong, and new companies were being set up. We are building on the momentum that we created last year, and it will reap its benefits this year. It all boils down to budgets when it comes to promoting the island; however, the product is already good, and the government is working on mending certain teething problems.

international tenders. Even if you had to have a local consortium, when you are competing with the Googles and the IBMs and the Microsofts of this world, it’s likely a company will probably choose a reputable giant over a small consortium. But not everything is doom and gloom. We have many companies who have internationalized and are seeking offshore opportunities, especially from Africa – the African continent is a virgin continent for technology innovation. We also have a very good relationship with the Asian continent, although at the moment everything is on hold because of the Coronavirus, but we are seen as a trusted European partner with Japan and China – we do a lot of business there, especially in Japan. This year we have embarked on creating real-life case studies to show that you can make it in Malta in the technology sector. Malta is attractive for those investing in the technology sector and we have had both local and international people who came to Malta or started their business in Malta with a technological solution and have succeeded.

You’ve mentioned the local industry – what’s being done to promote it both locally and internationally, and what are the challenges that the local IT industry is facing?

Covid-19 has made it evident that we must operate with zero dependencies, remove geographical barriers to trade and become global. If the customer is not coming to you, then your business needs to set presence in the customer’s life, digitally. Investing in digital technology today will become a most valuable digital asset in the near future

One of the major challenges is obviously human resources, followed by the extent of the Maltese technology industry when they come to bid for

There is a diversification in the technology portfolio that is being offered because we attract very high-value talent; locally our education system


produces high value talent when it comes to technology, and we also attract high value talent because of incentives that we offer when it comes to the salary taxation system. It also boils down to the potential that one is exposed to. also acts as a go-to entity for companies, both local and international, to have a starting point in the industry. In terms of the human resources issue, is it being actively tackled? We are seeing a surge in remote working – therefore tapping into talent which is not physically here. I have also been working with a resources company that is finding talent pools who are rated to be reliable workers – technology can be a dark sector as you’re never sure who you are speaking to in terms of development, whether they are delivering what you are asking of them, or whether they left any intentional loopholes allowing someone to eventually hack into your system to steal data. We have relied on reputable local companies, when it comes to resources, to promote this remote working exercise. With regard to the education system, both MCAST and the University of Malta have been working in tandem with us to enhance the education curricula when it comes to technology,

because today we are seeing a lot of iterations when it comes



to the digital economy, and the edcation system has been very responsive so that we produce what the industry is asking for.

the private sector needs to understand that there needs to be an upskilling framework so that the human resource can be given additional tasks.

So, the educational courses have been amended to reflect today’s requirements?

…to not end up with a situation of machine taking over man…

Yes, and another iteration that we were looking at last year and which is still in process is to enhance the process for visas. We were failing in the process when it comes to awarding visas to non-EU nationals because the process is more cumbersome. The checks have to be in place and obviously there has to be a legitimate process, but that needed to be optimized and there is an incentive that we are looking at to hopefully make it easier for resources from outside the EU to be available to Maltese companies. The last report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has flagged that we are becoming very dependent on international workers. To be able to scale up, we are trending into the same grounds as Singapore, for example. We are of a smaller size, but we are going down the same route. We are dependent on imports because as a country we do not have any natural resources of our own, except for the human resource, and even that is scarce. So, of course if you want to scale you have to find resources. That is why we are going towards this drive of system optimization and artificial intelligence, especially intelligent mechanisms, because some automated processes may replace some human resources and that human resource can then be used for something else. In tandem with this though,

Exactly. So, in a world where we are seeing that we have a lack of resources, if you are going to shift and optimize certain processes, it is only natural to upskill that human resource to be able to use the person where you have gaps. I’m sure that on-the-job training and upskilling is easier than trying to find someone from outside who is already graduated in that specific area and starting the training process from scratch. It takes time but it reaps more benefit, even when it comes to a company’s stickability and turnover. Places like Estonia and Lithuania are considered successful in terms of technology. How do you see them in terms of a competitive jurisdiction? When it comes to Estonia and Lithuania they have taken a different approach to ours, even when it comes to regulation and licensing of certain technologies. We have been more cautious and more quality focused rather than quantity. A license from Malta would be a trust certificate that the system that you claim to be developing will do what it claims to be doing. From a customer perspective that gives you a level of trust that you are using a platform that is authentic. Other countries have focused on licensing and allowed companies and people to operate in their legislative framework, but that is more of a quantitative approach.

Thanks goes to our local technology sector, for exercising resilience during this pandemic and being a backbone to other economic sectors Given what we’re going through as a country, we did not want to go down that route, and that is why our framework is different. However, our framework has been looked at by both the French and the Germans because our technology legal framework is quite advanced when it comes to rigidness, righteousness and trust. Pricing is another debate when it comes to competition there is always an element of price - but you need to give your product value as well. That is something that we will be looking into this year; however, from a legislative framework point of view we do not want to budge. If you’re not technological yourself you may not realise that you may be using illegal software, therefore through our certification and legislation we are trying to achieve a high level of trust and to keep the reputation of the technology sector as MONEY

clean as possible. So that is how Malta is different to other jurisdiction – when I see countries like France and Germany looking at our framework to establish their own, that gives me a lot of satisfaction. What’s the next big project for for this year? We will be continuing on our past efforts to promote the technology sector both locally and abroad and to establish tangible relationships that can help Maltese businesses attract foreign investments to Malta. Covid-19 has obviously affected certain plans and projects; however, we will strive to keep going, and thanks must go to our local technology sector, for exercising resilience during this pandemic and being a backbone to other economic sectors. 25






Truevo Time to

Dayna Clarke caught up with chief executive officer David Liu to find out why Truevo set up shop within the Maltese islands and their incredible journey to date. Why did you set up a base in Malta? I originally came to Malta because I was looking for an EU-based acquirer so my South African-based payment gateway company could expand into accepting payments in Europe. This was back in 2012. When I visited, I realised that PSD had come into effect which allowed a tech company to apply for a financial license. Instead of working with an acquirer, I decided rather to open one myself! That is how Truevo came to be. What challenges have you found locally along the way? In this industry, if you are prepared to be an entrepreneur, you must also be prepared to wait. This isn’t so much specific to Malta. It’s true that the license was new to Malta, but the country handled it great. It is more the nature of the beast of setting up this sort of organisation that it takes time for all the pieces to come together. I was ready to begin the process of setting up a company in Malta in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2016 that Truevo was fully licensed and ready to process its first card-present transaction. I don’t see it as much as a challenge as a necessary requirement to operate, but yes, it does take time. MONEY

You have won multiple awards, and many companies have shifted to your service, why do you think this is? I would say our success is based on our technology adoption. We’re not held back by legacy or historical systems like some of the older companies in the space. This allows us to adapt to new technologies just as soon as they’re pumped out. In this way, we can service offerings that less agile companies can’t. Additionally, we don’t constrain ourselves to a specific technology. We follow architectural approaches when addressing system design which allow for rapid agility. For example, if our best option is C# or Python, a NoSQL database or a cache, streaming or a queue we can choose and use what’s best. We are nimble enough to use whatever suits each job. What are the current technical challenges faced by your service? Happily, I can say the challenge is our growth. We have been aggressively ambitious with our plans so our technical roadmap is crammed with new products and features. Also, we are increasing our transaction volumes so much 27


that our tech needs to have the ability to scale seamlessly alongside not only us but our customers, who are growing themselves. We’re lucky in that we have a talented tech team that thrives on challenges and new systems. Are you able to find the right skilled employees to drive the business forward? Or do you train up tech people in-house? The short answer is yes, we’re able to source great people and we tend to keep them. The average technical team member at Truevo stays for four to five years. The long answer is that tech talent is perpetually in short supply, and it’s important to give tech team members challenges that further their careers and combat boredom. For us, it’s essential to hire the right people from the start, so we give candidates three interviews, an aptitude test to analyse their developer skills, and a psychometric assessment. We take knowledge into consideration just as equally as we hire for personality, cultural fit, and values. We promise our team members that they’ll always be learning with us, and we’ll always be investing in their skills. Thankfully, great developers tend to be motivated by this, so we have a terrific team. The market is steadily picking up pace locally with others cropping up, what makes you stand out from your competitors? We stay current on competitors not just locally, but abroad. Our C-level team is a mix of local and international talent with a combined 100+ years in the payments industry so they have a great hand on 28

the pulse of the industry. I, myself, have been launching payment companies since the late 90’s so I’m quite familiar with the territory. As a larger team, we share industry knowledge daily via a Slack channel. On any given day, you can find a Risk Analyst, a Developer, and a VP of Sales posting news. The payments industry is changing rapidly, but it is also clear what is missing in the marketplace and which parties are underserved. We work to create products that solve established needs, and there are plenty. What feedback have you been getting for your service? We receive the most positive feedback on how easy it is to integrate with us. Instead of taking months, our integrations average a couple of days at best to a few weeks at worst. So, the time to market our merchants’ products are that much faster and project risk is lower. What people like about us is that we use new technologies that are secure, effective and fast. Our industry is rampant with companies which started out using monolithic, rather than micro service architectures which don’t allow them to deliver iterative pieces quickly. We leverage a cloud-first environment with access to a multitude of technologies rather than being restricted to just a few. Our agility helps us accomplish big things, but it also propels our customers into the future. What’s on the horizon for Truevo? We are in the process of creating a unified platform which we will release to our

customers, enabling them to access several different financial systems and instruments through modern APIs. Our aim is to provide customers with the toolbox and we are excited to have them surprise us with what they can achieve with our platform. We are constantly investing in our data platform. As far as our next steps go, we’re taking artificial intelligence methodologies such as machine learning very seriously. It is the era of big data, and the tech world has access to a ton of information. In reality, very few companies are able to leverage the power of that data. SME players, in particular, do not have the capacity for data science, machine learning, and data engineering teams yet their businesses would be so much more powerful with these kinds of resources. Our plan is to be right there to hand them these capabilities and allow them to play with the big guys. That is the big, hairy, audacious goal that motivates our technology teams every day. MONEY

AS FAR AS OUR NEXT STEPS GO, WE’RE TAKING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE METHODOLOGIES SUCH AS MACHINE LEARNING VERY SERIOUSLY. >> ABOUT Truevo is a FinTech company which provides fast,flexible and convenient payment solutions.They empower businesses to accept Visa, MasterCard and JCB payments in 120 currencies and receive settlements in the currency of their choice. With Truevo, customers can accept card transactions online, over the phone, and in-store. They also offer a push payments solution which facilitates fast pay-outs to over a billion eligible Visa, MasterCard and Maestro cards.



Edition The eBusiness Awards are Going Digital More information out soon

Powered by


Road to success Dayna Clarke interviews David Vella, co-founder and chief executive officer at Altaro Software, a fast-growing Maltese company with an international reach.

You have won multiple international awards and many companies around the world have shifted to using your products. Why do you think this is? We’re a Maltese company competing globally against international giants with our Malta-made security software solutions. We research, design and develop our own products here in Malta, and we market and sell them internationally from here. In the past 11 years, we’ve managed to attract more than 50,000 businesses worldwide as our customers, with our top markets being the US, the UK and Germany. I think the key to this is our passion for what we do, our accessibility, and the hard work and dedication of our team of 100+ employees. In 2009, three other cofounders – Julian Pace Ross, Simon Attard and Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita – and I joined forces to set up Altaro



Software in Malta. We invested our personal savings, and started out in a basement, using second-hand desks. We wanted to spend every cent we had on growing the business. When we design our products, we are inspired by our own experiences as a fledgling company. For example, time and money tend to be scarce, so we develop easy-to-use and cost-effective products. This ethic permeates everything we do. Added to this, we provide our customers with guaranteed access to outstanding 24/7 technical support, so that their minds are at rest. That’s another of our core pillars. Then there’s our worldwide digital marketing, run by a team of experts here, using advanced technologies and strategies. We’re both humbled and encouraged to see our combined efforts and mindset validated by the growing number of customers and awards.


What attracts the right skilled employees to Altaro to help drive the business forward? Do you train up tech people inhouse? Developing, promoting and supporting off-the-shelf solutions for a worldwide market is a very compelling career proposition. Another is the opportunity to learn and grow. All our team members can grow with us. They’re exposed to advanced technologies, new ideas and learning opportunities, whether they are engineers, developers, testers or digital marketing professionals. New tech joiners benefit from Altaro’s Bootcamp, an ‘earn while you learn’ programme that we purposely set up to give those who are just starting out the training and skills they need to be successful. Our open, welcoming, family-like atmosphere is another factor. We cultivate a ‘can do’ attitude and an accent on dynamism, creativity and execution. For example, to mark our 10th anniversary last year, we flew in all our employees and their families to celebrate together. We regularly organise various get together and teambuilding activities, such as bonfire nights, seaside parties, office drinks and more. We’re always on the lookout for great tech talent – be it for software development, quality assurance, IT systems and operations or tech support. All these roles are essential to our progress, along with our marketing, sales and admin teams. How do you keep up with advances in technology and stay at the front of your game? We achieve this in different ways. We are a Microsoft Gold Partner and keep abreast of their technologies and upcoming developments. We also conduct our own research and have our technology department, where we develop and test prototypes. Meanwhile, we listen closely to our customers and our worldwide network of partners who are authorised to resell our products -- their input, their requests, their needs, their ideas. This is invaluable feedback to us and helps in our decision-making process.

New tech joiners benefit from Altaro’s Bootcamp, an ‘earn while you learn’ programme that we purposely set up to give those who are just starting out the training and skills they need to be successful.


>> ABOUT Founded in 2009, Altaro develops off-the-shelfsecurity software solutions and has more than 50,000 customers in 121+ countries. Apart from its headquarters in Malta, which is responsible for strategy, the company has offices in the US, the UK, Germany, France and North Macedonia. 31



Detecting threats Dayna Clarke meets Reaqta, chief executive officer and founder Alberto Pelliccione, a leading provider of AI-based cybersecurity solutions capable of addressing highly sophisticated threats.


eaQta develops an AI-based Endpoint Threat Response platform, and it offers Managed Detection, Threat Hunting and Incident Response services. ReaQta’s platform provides clients with advanced detection and response capabilities without requiring additional or highly skilled personnel. This innovative approach applies the latest AI algorithms to automate and simplify the process of detecting and handling new cyber threats.




What has contributed to your immense success in such a short period? The success in our space is due to a mix of factors, a fantastic team capable of constant innovation combined with an excellent and welldesigned technology, that contributes to easing what is otherwise a tremendously complex problem: keeping data safe from advanced and sophisticated attackers. A large part of our success was of course made possible by the recent advances in AI, which we use extensively to both detect new cyber-threats and to manage everything that comes after that: tracking the attackers, removing them and securing the infrastructure. What are the technical challenges presently faced by ReaQTA? As our customer base grows internationally, we do require more talents to be able to scale up and increase our coverage. Technology can solve all sorts of complex problems, but technology is created by people and finding the right talents is always an incredible challenge. What led you to start up in Malta? We started our adventure with a limited amount of funds, back then our idea was so ahead of its time that

it was tough to convince people it would work. Malta was a natural choice, it was close to home, everyone speaks English, we could use capital more efficiently, and generally, we found a supportive environment, so we packed our bags and relocated right away! Are you able to find the right skilled employees to drive the business forward? Unfortunately, no. Cybersecurity skills are acquired over several years, not months, this eventually became the most pressing bottleneck for our growth. We solved this issue by opening another office in Amsterdam, where we had access to a much larger pool of talents. This made it possible for us to scale up and grow. How do you keep up with advances in technology and stay at the front of your game? The Maltese ecosystem is hectic, and it keeps growing, which is exciting. At the same time, we are used to competing among giants; our industry is in fact dominated by US companies which benefit from funding that are orders of magnitude much more extensive than what we have access to in Europe. As a company, this makes you resilient and inventive, as you must deliver the same - or better - quality with a fraction

of the resources. That’s how we have always competed and how we will keep competing in our spaces; we never stop pushing the envelope, we still think outside the box in order create value: may it be in terms of new features, new services or more efficient processes. What feedback have you been getting for your service? We keep growing steadily, and we are expanding fast in new regions, we started with Southern Europe, and now we have offices in Amsterdam and Singapore to cover the whole of Europe and Asia. We keep winning international awards, the last one being the Innovation Technology Award from Frost & Sullivan, so on the tech side, the feedback remains exceptionally positive, and we couldn’t afford anything different. We leave and breathe tech. The moment our work stops being appreciated is the moment in which we have stopped doing our job. What plans do you have for the future, what areas of tech interest you the most? Our focus has been on AI from inception, we use everything from traditional Machine Learning to Deep Learning, and we have a Data Science team that experiments and improves our models and engines continuously. Our cyber-security solution is now fully mature, and we are expanding into new territories, such as enterprise risk assessment and mitigation. We are in a unique position to do that, given the kind of data we process, so it’s a very natural step to move in that direction. MONEY

TECHNOLOGY CAN SOLVE ALL SORTS OF COMPLEX PROBLEMS, BUT TECHNOLOGY IS CREATED BY PEOPLE AND FINDING THE RIGHT TALENTS IS ALWAYS AN INCREDIBLE CHALLENGE >> ABOUT Alberto has several years of experience in the Intelligence sector; he led a team of high-profile cybersecurity experts to develop attack tools, used by governmental agencies worldwide, to conduct cyber intelligence and counter-terrorism operations. Before that he worked as a researcher at the National Council of Research on Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous agents, and he’s been active in the field of Malware analysis and Threat Intelligence since 1998.






Money / Issue 36

COV ID -1 9

Working through quarantimes Dayna Clarke speaks to David Darmanin, chief executive officer at Hotjar, on how the global analytics provider is coping with Covid-19. Say again. What is Hotjar? While Google Analytics shows you where your visitors are going on your site, Hotjar ventures a step further, and gives you what they’re doing and what they think. Hotjar uses heat maps and aggregate visualisation—like where your visitors are clicking, how they’re moving their mouse, how much they’re scrolling—and you can even record and replay a whole session. We also made it possible to receive visitor feedback, so you can ask simple questions directly within the in-page experience or present deeper surveys. You have made a fantastic product, with thousands of users globally including some of the world’s biggest names in business. The onset of COVID-19, as for everyone was a tremendous blow, how did it impact Hotjar and what measures have you put in place? As with everyone, we certainly felt the hit of the onset of COVID-19. It’s a myth that although we are a digital-first company and already work remotely that we are “immune” to it. While it is


true working remotely and many of our existing processes are to our advantage during this unprecedented time. Naturally, we had to take measures to protect our team members. We work remotely; however, we all meet up around the globe very frequently, so putting a stop to travel before borders closing was a necessary step. We cancelled plans, events and meetups. We put all hiring on pause, and we put our heads together to come up with a plan– in this case, using a scenario planning framework. We are currently a global team with 106 people across 24 countries, so although we are global, not every situation we share affects us all at the same time. COVID-19 was a first for us in that it was the first common challenge to affect us all – irrespective of where we were based. What have been the biggest challenges so far, and how did you address them? Although of course, this storm isn’t over yet, I can say when looking back on the last couple of months that the biggest challenge was a sense of false optimism. By this I mean everyone thought this would die down quickly, and all be over quite soon. We had to get past that and



We kept open channels of communication and provided outreach for those that needed it prepare. We are entirely transparent with our team members and moved quickly to pre-empt what might pass through our customer’s minds. We kept open channels of communication and provided outreach for those that needed it. I decided if people were going to start cancelling subscriptions, let’s make the cancellation experience a positive one. We kept open channels of communication and provided outreach for those that needed it. We decided if people were going to start cancelling subscriptions, let’s make the cancellation experience a positive one. We offered users cancelling due to COVID-19 the option to receive two months of their plan at no cost. While we are now in a strong position and have reopened hiring, we continue to be cautious and monitor metrics week by week. We have defined dates in the future to serve as milestones of going back to ‘normal’. However, there are still many unknowns. For example, pre-COVID-19 we knew what seasonality looked like, but now we don’t know what the market will look like this summer. Many organisations are seeing positives in addition to challenges, even when it comes to addressing new client needs or opportunities to improve your organisation’s effectiveness. What are you seeing? I think the biggest positive during these challenging times has been to see a more ‘human’ and sensitive side from businesses. At Hotjar we were cautious to not come across as ‘opportunistic’ with our user base, so we avoided COVID-related emails and announcements. Internally we also quickly made changes to adapt to our team’s needs. At Hotjar, we offer several allowances and budgets that team members can use from their personal Hotjar card. During this time, we offered them to our team members in a lump sum giving 36

them more flexibility to adapt to the situation. We also introduced the ability to ‘bring kids to work’- As a remote company that might sound odd, but everyone on the team ‘got it’ which means parents were more comfortable juggling working and home-schooling. We also made sure to emphasize the message that ‘we are all in this together’ and that ultimately we will come out of this stronger – but as a team and individuals. What would be your message to business leaders in geographies that have not yet seen the full extent of the crisis, on what they should be focusing on for maximum impact as a leader? I don’t want to sound like I am preaching; there are still immense lessons to be learned for us all. I think a big consideration for all entrepreneurs and business owners is to ask ourselves ‘how sustainable is the business?’. We all need to consider what if another crisis happens again, and how would we want to be prepared the next time around? What would we want to do differently? Finally – we all need to be aware of the false optimism I mentioned earlier. We need to have difficult the conversations that need to be had and be transparent with our teams. Finally – if you are facing change and challenges as you adapt, remember that ultimately you will only be successful if your team is effective. And your team needs trust and flexibility during these times. They can only feel safe and do their best work once you fully trust them to do so. At Hotjar, we call this ‘trust from day zero’. Once you let go and truly trust your team, you can see them make mistakes and grow. Give them objectives, goals and if someone breaches that trust, take it seriously. The rest of the team will only respect you if you do both – trust them and swiftly address breaches of trust. MONEY

>> ABOUT Hotjar is a global analytics provider – a legitimate, GDPRcompliant service that is used by website creators to track various trends about the usage of the site. Users install the software on their websites to track various statistics. The success of the humble start-up with strong Maltese roots is thanks to local CEO David Darmanin, the awardwinning brainchild behind the Hotjar brand.






AML TRANSACTION MONITORING IT PAYS TO COMPLY ComplyRadar helps you address AML transaction monitoring requirements by automatically identifying suspicious behaviour in real-time or retrospectively, while minimising false positives. It monitors transactions related to individuals, accounts, and entities to detect suspicious activity quickly and effectively, through a fully audited process to inspect and act on flagged transactions.

FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS Monitor transactions in real-time with live notifications as they happen Detect transactions from sanctioned countries Capture irregular deposit or withdrawal patterns Block suspicious transactions before they are processed Facilitate manual inspection processes for compliance staff Reduce the number of tools required by the compliance team Use AI to learn additional behaviour patterns which are not captured by rules Utilise a back-testing environment to measure the effect of rule-tuning

ComplyRadar empowers you to stay on top of the ever-changing regulatory requirements and make the right risk decisions faster, so you can find the right balance between stringent regulation, avoiding fines, and delivering a positive customer experience.

Learn More. Get in touch with us today. Drop us an email on Give us a call on +356 2149 0700 or visit our website on



An Appetite for Apps Dayna Clarke speaks to Simon Debono, chief officer, marketing and business development at eCabs; Jason Degiorgio, founder and chief executive officer at Delivify; Belal El Sherif, operations manager at Fetchit/Time to Eat, to discuss the challenges and changing picture of Malta’s food delivery and mobility services in terms of emerging technologies and COVID-19.


s prime ministers across the globe advise against eating in restaurants and cafes, and as a rising amount of nations enter selfisolation due to Covid-19, online food delivery may be one of the handful of sectors that stands to benefit amid the global crisis. Revenue in the UK online food delivery industry stands at a healthy €4,528 million so far in 2020, up 11.5% in the year to date, when compared to the same time frame last year. On top of this, according to Statista the number of users is also on the rise, an almost 10% increase from this time last year reporting 22.5 million users at this point in time. Malta isn’t exempt from the trends sweeping across Europe in food delivery services, and the changing face of technologies that go with it.

eCabs eCabs needs no introduction, having been the market leader in the local mobility industry for years, after disrupting the sector ten years ago and never looking back. The company has consistently invested and evolved from strength to strength over the years, building a unique organisation which never sleeps, operating 24/7 and being the only company in Malta to offer a multi-channel booking engine. eCabs’ clients benefit from instant and prebookings either through a dedicated app which has been downloaded thousands of times. We also manage web bookings, and phone bookings with a 24/7 contact centre making customer service agents available any time to help, as well as over-the-counter bookings and email. The company has also recently launched an AI-enabled virtual agent through social media channels. eCabs is also a firm believer in supporting the community in which it operates and plans to be a large contributor as the organisation keeps on growing. How does E-cabs work well with technology? Our technology is developed completely in-house by a team of exceptional specialists, located mainly here in

38 38


Malta with a growing team overseas, all very ably led by an exceptional senior management team. We closely follow the emergence of Big Data, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, studying ways how these can elevate mobility services to better levels, offering optimised service levels accessible to all. Driven by data-driven decision making, we’ve embarked on an ambitious quest to drive operational efficiency through the processing of geospatial data collected from different internal and external sources accumulated during our 10 years of operation and augmented by numerous datasets. All this and more aides the short, medium and long-term business benefit. How have you adapted your business to COVID-19? Naturally, COVID-19 brought about its challenges. Since our business is built on moving people, our sales have suffered, especially when tourism stopped completely. However, this new reality also accelerated the plans we always had in the last mile delivery sector, which was already operating for a while, but which wasn’t our main priority until realities changed. So, we had to work extremely fast and hard to change tack and accelerate to the direction. We’ve also been extremely busy with planning


our future. The long-term strategies of the company are being kept well in sight. What are your thoughts on how the world will be different after COVID-19, and how are you moving t o address that new world? I think we are slowly realising that the new normal won’t be some massive radical change. People are going to be changing their habits and their expectations, and they should, we all should. The way we operate will forever be conditioned by an acute need for peace of mind that only properly managed companies can ensure with vehicles that are adequately sanitised and employees who are adequately chosen and trained. The fact that we manage a centralised operation unlike most of our competitors helps us to ensure this with stringent, monitored and reported SOPs. What are the current technical challenges faced by your service? Challenges have come in all forms and from all angles for everyone, however, I think the ones with their hands most full have been our colleagues in the Human Capital department. People management at a time where so many team members are personally impacted has been a hard and often emotional affair. How do you ensure your drivers stay safe on the roads? Is there any emerging technology for this? All vehicles are purchased with the highest safety equipment available at the time of purchase and are also are equipped with tamper-proof hardware that monitors the trips, including speed. Various technologies exist and are being deployed globally, some apply to our often densely packed roads and others not so much. The future will see the driverless car being deployed, but in the meantime, cars will keep getting safer for everyone with technologies like Vehicle to Vehicle Communication which will allow cars to communicate with one another to anticipate and prevent collisions, or Adaptive Cruise control

which essentially prevents the vehicle from getting closer to the vehicle in front of it by a parameterised distance. Another interesting technology is Blind Spot Sensors. The future is bright and full of safety tech features. The market is steadily picking up pace locally with others cropping up, what makes you stand out from your competitors? How do you keep up with advances in technology? The mobility sector will keep on growing, locally and overseas. New entrants will be inevitable, and competition is healthy as long as there is a proactive and future proof regulatory framework to create a tamper-proof level playing field. Our industry is regulated by laws written in the 90s, hardly a picture of today’s realities. This is a 100% technology race and we are steadily growing an already very capable tech team. We’re always looking into the future, letting our imagination shape our ambitions and investing in tech to take us there. Our tech is on par with all international players. I’d say that what makes us stand out the most is a tried, tested and trusted brand. What feedback have you been getting for your service? Our service is monitored daily with satisfaction KPIs generated through the app and all social channels as well as the App stores. We have a consistent 95%+ 5-star App service rating, with a 4.8 and 4.9 over 5 ratings on Google Play and Apple app Store respectively from thousands of ratings. We also monitor all comments and react to any improvements suggested. We’re not perfect, but we are consistently striving to improve What plans do you have for the future? The future for us is overseas businesswise, and of course, technology-led. eCabs will grow into an exportable Maltese brand which will fly the Maltese business flag internationally. AI and Machine Learning will play a big part of our future with continuous improvements



in the already adopted natural language processing we have adopted, as will IOT and the harnessing of geospatial data, within a multi-modality platform. A continuous quest for seamless and exceptional customer experience will keep us driving our investments in technology. We’re eternally excited by what we see as a responsible and bright tech-led future.



FETCHIT & TIME TO EAT What do you consider to be the advantages of bicyclebased delivery services? Fetchit is an on-demand courier service that seeks to provide an environmentally justified solution to Malta’s mobility problems. We pick up and deliver food, documents and personal items across Malta seven days a week using e-bikes, scooters and a couple of cars. We want to avoid people making unnecessary journeys because there are already more than enough cars on the road. We’ll take care of your errand for you using two wheels instead of four. We only use our cars for bulk orders or items that wouldn’t fit on a bike. How does it work well with technology? Our current booking and tracking system is top of the range and guarantees a fast and efficient service. We take pride in mastering the delivery of perishables (food) and have made significant headway with regards to our corporate clients. In the future, we would like to see all sorts of people signing up to become Fetchers. Not as a full or part-time job, but rather, as a way of helping us alleviate the traffic issue. If you find yourself running around in your car, why not sign up as a Fetcher and carry some goods that are on your route? Such as the customer can help us improve the utilisation of resources, help Malta reduce its carbon footprint and earn some extra cash on the side everyone’s a winner!


What are the current technical challenges faced by your service? Fetchit was a big dream that began with the smallest resources. Within two years, we have grown exponentially and seen that there is a real demand for alternatives especially in the mobility and delivery sectors. Sometimes people get overwhelmed by the idea of trying to change the world around them and everything in it. It’s better to start small and influence your close circles, then the ripple effect will spread, and what seemed wild and exotic will become the new norm.

We feel who doesn’t plan for the future, would die young

How do you ensure your drivers stay safe on the roads? Is there any emerging technology for this? Safety is our top priority. We provide beneficial training sessions in Malta for new applicants and revision session every month to make sure that we always up to standard to reach our customer’s satisfaction. Technology is always there to help and to make sure that driving on the road is safer than before. The market is steadily picking up pace locally with others cropping up, what makes you stand out from your competitors? How do you keep up with advances in technology? To make sure we reach our customer satisfaction and to feed the market needs with high performance, we believe that our riders/Fetchers are the primary key in the game, so we invest money and time in the training. Moreover,

we believe that new technology is the leading player in such a game. We are always developing and improving our application (Fetchit/Time to Eat) to make sure that we serve better and up to standard. What feedback have you been getting for your service? The feedback for our service is mostly very good to excellent as it is very easy to use the Time To Eat application to order your food and to use to place a corporate jobs (C2C, B2B or B2C) order for your company, office, or even for your personal use. What plans do you have for the future? We feel who doesn’t plan for the future, would die young. At Fetchit and Time to Eat planning and executing our role every day is integral to our business, as there’s no two days the same at our office. When it comes to technology, we plan and test continuously, all aspects and experience what our customers do every day to make sure we develop and improve our technology in the right direction. Tech-wise, we are planning to launch a new update for both apps by this spring 2020, which will make the experience to order online much easier. M MO ON NE EY Y


DELIVIFY Delivify is a relatively young company which was started by three young, yet experienced entrepreneurs. The company has always had its primary focus on bringing absolute convenience to the shopper. From its inception, Delivify has focused on creating a user-friendly and intuitive mobile application enabling users to acquire products from across various categories and have these delivered to any address of their choice. What do you consider to be the advantages of bicyclebased delivery services? Bike-based delivery services enable courier companies to provide point to point services with predicable delivery times as bikes can negotiate their way around traffic easier than any other vehicle. This allows for a faster delivery period which for certain perishable products as well as emergency goods is critical. How does it work well with technology? Nowadays, technology provides one critical asset to companies – data. Tracking allows us to track the whole order journey from the time the customer places the order to the time this is delivered. With such data in hand, we can analyse the performance of the different elements within the order journey and focus on improving processes to ensure a smooth transaction from start to finish. What are the current technical challenges faced by your service? The main technical challenges relate to the speed at which things move within the digital space. Enough to mention the constant need to update the app to keep up with security updates as well as ensuring compatibility with different browsers and operating systems. This is essential to us as we want to ensure the user is exposed to the same pleasant experience whichever platform they use. How do you ensure your drivers stay safe on the roads? Is there any emerging technology for this? We employ drivers directly; hence we retain control over the service we provide. Drivers are given ample training in both mechanical operation of their bike, the routes, use of mapping devices as well as how to handle emergencies. Apart from this, Delivify’s bikers are licensed drivers. With regards to technology, we are continuously looking at ways and systems to improve the safety of our drivers and are currently considering many new developments in bike tracking.

The market is steadily picking up pace locally with others cropping up, what makes you stand out from your competitors? How do you keep up with advances in technology? We have invested heavily in technology to automate all the process and provide a smooth service to the customer. Indeed, the market has recently been targeted by several new entrants which for us represents a confirmation that the market is an attractive one. We expect the market to go through a period of growth that will ultimately see the consolidation of the market and the emergence of a smaller number of key players within this space. Delivify seeks to stand out from the competition by providing reliable, quality service through its employees. In our case, all our bikers are employed


with us and undergo compulsory training which includes food handling certification to ensure safe food handling in line with local legislation. This focus on quality control ensures our customers receive topnotch service. What feedback have you been getting for your service? To date, the feedback is very positive, and this is also reflected in the number of repeat users we have on the app. This tech journey was not an easy one, but so far, it has been enriching. What plans do you have for the future? We believe AI is the key in many ways, including the integration of the system to personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Apart from this, chatbots are also being considered to improve the customer service provided. 41



The use in

Use Ability B Tech.mag speaks to UKborn Kelby Garside who started Malta’s first UX design studio, Use Ability.

orn in the UK, Kelby Garside has been living in Malta for the past five years with his wife Gemma and two children Tyler and Evie. Before moving to Malta, Kelby had built a successful career in Design and UX (user experience) working for companies such as Nokia, Deutsche Telekom and Zurich. In Malta, he worked in various UX roles before starting the highly successful Use Ability. Use Ability is very much a family business; Kelby started the company two years ago with his wife and initial investment from her father, Terry. Gemma has a background in teaching and psychology, which helps when moderating the usability sessions. While our primary business is usability testing and UX consultancy, we also run popular coding courses for primary age children.

What led you to start the first usability studio consultancy in Malta? Before moving to Malta, I had been working for a large financial company that involved me running lots of user testing. Having seen the benefits of testing first-hand, I knew I wanted to open a studio to help other companies. What positives are there to being on the island? Malta has over the past few years attracted many high-tech companies from industries such as iGaming and Fintech. There are lots of companies here that can benefit from a service such as ours. Of course, we also enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and all that sunshine!


What pitfalls and challenges did you face along the way? Finding the equipment needed to build the studio locally was a challenge; we did need to buy quite a bit from Amazon. From an understanding perspective, we frequently must explain what we do. However, we have clients that ‘get it’, and they are gaining a lot from performing research. Many companies have opted to use your service, what do you feel is attracting companies? We are providing a studio that can compete technically with similar studios across Europe. With our location in Malta, we also have the advantage of easy access to a wide range of nationalities amongst our participants. Maltabased companies that would typically travel to London or Sweden can find it cost-effective to test here in Malta. We have also been approached by companies abroad who are now planning to test with us. What is your testing process? The people that use a company’s website, app or products are real people. It makes sense that the opinion of these people can help companies to make better products. Research shows that testing with just five people will give you around 80% of any usability issues with a product. We work with the client to design a set of tasks that will help them find out insights into issues they are having. We then ask five people to run through these tasks while recording their reactions and live stream these to our observation room where the clients will be watching and can give feedback and ask questions. Tell us about your testing studio. Well, I can talk about the studio for hours! I designed it based on my previous experience when testing in the UK. The studio is designed around a wish list of features I wanted from a perfect studio, and I’m glad to say I succeeded. The studio is equipped with multiple cameras to watch the participant from different angles. During a test, we can easily switch between different combinations of these depending on whether a desktop or device test is taking

place. We also offer eye-tracking to add an extra level of detail. We can see where the participant is looking and where they are expecting to find parts of the interface. Are you able to find the right skilled employees to drive the business forward? We currently handle most of our workload ourselves, but when we get busy, we have freelance UX researchers that we can call upon to help. How do you keep up with advances in the UX world? We stay up to date by monitoring feedback from our clients, watching what is going on with current UX trends and adapting where necessary. One example is how we test Casino games where we started, including playtesting, where we watch people play the games before following up with questions.


What feedback have you been getting for your service? We have had some great feedback about how our set-up is adaptable to our client’s needs, no matter what they want to test then we can cater for it. The same goes for our reporting where we tailor it to suit the actual test as opposed to giving them a ‘one-size-fits-all’ report that they have experienced with other studios. What plans do you have for the future of Use Ability? I am always looking at ways we can use other technologies to improve the insights we give to our clients. Without giving away too much, I think there are lots of great things that can be done with usability research in environments outside the studio. In the future, an area I think I’d like to explore is the use of AI in sentiment analysis.










ver the past couple of years, we have had our fair share of banking news from scandals to account closures to branch closures to loss of correspondent banking facilities to the impossibility of opening bank accounts. The challenges associated with access to banking facilities for both existing but even more so for new companies are sector agnostic and have affected far too many especially in an island which thrives and depends on international business activity. Efforts to kick-start ecosystems in blockchain, virtual financial assets and medical marijuana have encountered particular challenges when interested companies could not manage to open a bank account. The well-established remote gaming industry, the largest contributor to Malta’s economic growth, is also facing particular challenges in accessing banking facilities. The challenges are real and so are the effects which are definitely making Malta a less attractive proposition.


Talk to any professional in corporate or financial services and the biggest pain point anyone will mention is opening a bank account in Malta. JP Fabri explains.

Over the past decades, global banking has undergone a significant transformation. Following September 11 and the ensuing war on terror, anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism have ushered in an era of enhanced compliance and due diligence processes in banks. As more directives and requirements came into force, the regulatory pressure and the burden of compliance together with the larger fines being imposed, have made banks embark on large-scale de-risking activities. This has also impacted correspondent banking facilities. Correspondent banking is an essential component of the global payment system, especially for cross- border transactions. Through correspondent banking relationships, banks can access financial services in different jurisdictions and provide crossborder payment services to their customers, supporting, inter alia, international trade and financial inclusion. For Malta, a small island state, correspondent banking is a critical element in Malta’s financial inclusion especially with respect to the US dollar. Growing regulatory expectations, costs of due diligence, and concerns around profitability have led international banks to derisk their portfolios, scaling back or terminating their activities in higher-risk jurisdictions. In fact, on a global level, the Bank for International Settlements have published statistics indicating a decline of more than 20 per cent in correspondent banking MM OO NN EY EY

45 45


relationships. Malta was not an exception in this with the majority of its correspondent banking relationships terminating their activities on the island.

THE LOCAL CONTEXT Although the de-risking of correspondent banking is a global phenomenon, there are a number of Malta-specific reasons that have contributed to the challenging banking environment. First, reputation. Unfortunately, Malta’s reputation has been negatively impacted over the past couple of years on a number of levels. Banking scandals around suspected moneylaundering, allegations of corruption, political instability and also money-laundering activities on a large scale have all dented our reputation and this is something that the current government needs to focus on and give it its due importance. Second, institutional framework. As highlighted by various reports including MoneyVal and the European Commission, Malta needs to strengthen its institutional framework primarily the enforcement functions of the main regulatory functions. Third, digital transformation. Scalable data processing capacity, sophisticated data analytics and consistent reporting are key to reversing the decline in correspondent banking relationships, as it would enable banks to size and manage their risks. As such, solutions leveraging artificial intelligence and sophisticated analytics will become increasingly important. We need to see a greater investment by the banks and regulatory authorities to embrace digital transformation which will allow them to manage risks and enhance their compliance and monitoring capabilities. Fourth, change before you are forced to change. Over the past decades, we did not embrace the culture of change that today’s world demands. As a country we became complacent in some key matters. Postponing or lethargy are no longer options. Constant reassessments and iterations which also include change and reform need to become the norm.

BEYOND THE BANKS Bill Gates once said that banking is necessary, but banks are not. The rise of financial institutions which include payment providers and electronic money institutions are a case in point. Today, technology and new regulations and directives such as the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Open Banking have allowed a plethora of new technology-based companies to challenge existing banks. The rise of mobile banking, financiallending platforms and also payment providers have allowed 46

new entrants to challenge traditional banking players in providing services such as financing and payment execution. As a jurisdiction, we need to be able to attract more fintech companies which have embraced technology and the new possibilities allowed by the new regulations. Companies need to also embrace the new players on the market and not rely solely on banks to provide such services. Such institutions can today provide SME lending and payment services. We need to embrace the innovations and not necessarily demand all of the required services from traditional institutions.

past few years, new economic sectors were launched before ensuring that the ecosystem actually worked. The virtual financial asset sector and medical marijuana are prime examples. Attractive legislation and regulations are not enough to develop economic sectors. Access to banking, financing and human talent are among the critical factors that an ecosystem requires to develop. Miss one, and the ecosystem just won’t kick off. On the contrary, it will add to the frustrations towards the jurisdiction itself.

However, financial institutions are not risk-free. The Maltese regulators and authorities need to up their game when it comes to compliance and monitoring even more. They need to have the capacity to process large amounts of data to ensure that the institutions operating out of Malta are robust and compliant especially from an AML/CFT perspective.

These coming months are going to be critical. As the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) continues on its reform and the Government addresses key institutional weaknesses, Malta’s standing should improve. Local banks too need to ensure that their internal systems are robust in order to give the comfort needed by correspondent banks whilst having the tools to monitor clients and transactions to manage their risk more effectively.

Solutions to our banking woes exist. However, they all require a stronger jurisdictional culture towards compliance, regulatory enforcement and institutional robustness. Also, in order to add to the frustrations, we need to embrace an ecosystem approach to our economic sectors. Over the

It is true that banking in Malta has been a challenge. However, this too is an effect of deeper causes that have plagued our jurisdiction for far too long. Failure to think in a systems approach and to see our economy and jurisdiction as an ecosystem, will bring on the blues way beyond banking.





47 47



LEGAL TECH-NICALITY Giselle Borg Olivier speaks to Joseph J Borg, partner at WH Partners and Ian Gauci, managing partner at GTG Advocates about the state of the tech industry in Malta, its strengths and its weaknesses.




In recent years Malta made a pitch to infiltrate the tech market, especially with blockchain and DLT; however, what does Malta have to offer from a financial perspective over other jurisdictions?

JB: Malta has been infiltrating the tech

market for over a decade. Over the past years it has successfully become the benchmark jurisdiction for the regulation of iGaming and has managed to attract several software development companies as well as several ecommerce platforms. Going into the FinTech space was the natural next step for Malta, given the potential for growth in this sector. Malta has always had a strong financial services sector. Coupled with the experience in technology, be it iGaming or software development and ecommerce, this places the country in an ideal position to cater for the FinTech sector. One thing that Malta must offer is an array of tech-savvy advisors as well as a very forthcoming regulator mainly made up of young open-minded officers who are innovation friendly.

what I stated earlier, other key reasons include access to a very well-skilled HR base, being part of the EU and therefore providing access to a large marketplace without barriers, ease of attracting foreign employees to Malta, as well as having a stable political system in which policies concerning economic growth are usually shared by all the parties of the political spectrum. I believe that the latter is crucial as investors know that whichever party will be in government, it will continue to support the industry. Blockchain and iGaming are a case in point, in which all legislation promulgated in these fields has passed through parliament with a unanimous vote with all political parties supporting the position to regulate these industries.

IG: As I mentioned earlier, Malta’s tax

regime is advantageous; however, it also offers a skilled workforce within an EU jurisdiction which is very attractive to investors.

Particularly, in the blockchain space, Malta has come up with a unique 360-degree regulatory framework that goes much further than what other regulatory frameworks in the space cover.

IG: Malta as an innovation hub has

been at the helm of recent technological advances, including DLT and AI, while also creating one of the world’s first ad hoc frameworks on cryptocurrencies. Malta, aside from having a very advantageous tax regime and reputable flag, also has very skilled professionals and an ideal ecosystem at the heart of the European community. Is the advantageous tax regime the main pull factor for tech companies to set up their business here? And if so, is it enough?

JB: Naturally, this is a key factor;

however, there are other factors that attract business to Malta. Apart from





Does Malta have the infrastructure (environmental, human resources, economical) to sustain an influx of tech companies?

JB: Yes, I believe that over the past

20-30 years, there was a concerted effort by governments and the private industry to cater for such industries. More needs to be done, especially from the public infrastructure point of view but significant improvements have been noted. As for human resources, the ease of bringing foreign workers to Malta is a key point of success for a small country like Malta.IG: Malta has always embraced a pro-business attitude and is always investing to enhance and improve its infrastructure. If we look at industries like the gaming industry, maritime, and financial services, it’s clear that we have managed to build a solid framework complimented by a skilled workforce to attract these industries to Malta.

I believe that with the right mindset and improving on the existing momentum, Malta has the required backbone to improve and attract new industries, like the tech industry. On this front, Malta’s Sustainable Development Vision for 2050 is ambitious in both scope and intent. It sets out a long-term framework for advancing sustainable development in Malta whilst taking into consideration past shortcomings and achievements. What are Malta’s overall strengths and weaknesses in attracting and retaining a tech sector? 50


JB: I think I have already mentioned

most of the strengths. When it comes to weaknesses, the main weakness is in the objective difficulty in finding the balance between being open for business while maintaining a high bar when it comes to regulating these relatively high risk sectors, and without stifling innovation while managing to attract start-ups which are crucial to create a healthy ecosystem. However, this is not a weakness particular to Malta, but rather to any jurisdiction that wants to attract such dynamic and vibrant industries. However, our successful experience with the iGaming sector will help Malta to succeed in becoming an attractive base for the tech industry.

IG: Malta has always been at the

forefront of digital innovation. As a country we demonstrated high potential in growing and attracting digital businesses as well as technology outfits. Malta exhibits several strengths and characteristics that combine into a favourable value proposition for established and global digital businesses. These include strengths in terms of location, language, infrastructure, openness to business, state of the art skilled workforce, excellent lifestyle, education, cost of doing business, business incentives, as well as a robust legal framework. MONEY

Coupled with the experience in technology, be it iGaming or software development and e-commerce, this places the country in an ideal position to cater for the fintech sector.

BE SEEN WHERE IT MATTERS. For advertising/distribution




Theo Dix on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting our daily lives without knowing it.

52 52


The big global American and Chinese tech giants have been using AI technologies for years. They have spent billions of dollars on Research & Development (R&D), acquired numerous start-ups and poached some of the best AI brains in the world. But they are not the only ones. Nike acquired a predictive analytics platform in 2013 to help establish consumer demand, while McDonald’s bought two AI-focused companies to bring voice-enabled digital agents to drive-throughs alongside dynamic menus that change based on environmental factors. Ford and Tesla have been making acquisitions to help accelerate the development of self-driving cars, while manufacturing firms are making investments in the predictive maintenance.



I is the hottest word in tech and has been for several years. Yet, ask the man in the street or indeed most businesses if they have ever encountered, or used an AI application, and many will think you are trying to pull their leg. The perception of many when it comes to AI is still something out of the movies – a robot that looks like a human, thinks like a human and can do everything a human can. They are unaware that they encounter AI applications across their daily lives, from the algorithm that curates their social media feeds, to the ones that predict what to watch or what to buy.

the University of Cambridge and the World Economic Forum, and co-sponsored by EY — found that 85% of financial services leaders currently use some form of AI, triggered by the need for increased speed and efficiency and the opportunity for deeper data-driven insights. Furthermore, within two years 77% anticipate that AI will possess high or very high overall importance to their businesses. In that time frame, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents expect to be “mass adopters” of AI — using it for revenue generation, process automation, risk management, customer service and client acquisition — compared with just 16% currently. Malta’s AI strategy, which was launched last year, lays out several measures to stimulate R&D investment locally. The Patent Box Regime provides for deductions against taxable income on revenue generated from qualifying intellectual property (IP) assets. A digital collaboration platform will help to bring together industry, research organisations and startups. And start-ups will be supported through the

set-up of a co-investment fund to provide equity-based risk capital, in addition to support for several accelerator programmes. AI technologies are becoming more and more accessible. Business looking to get started with AI first need to build a high-level understanding of the various branches and understand some of the ways it can be applied to their sector. They then need consider it from the lens of the business-issue, define what that is, and then try to identify the solutions that can help them address it. Data is often the big stumbling block with most organisations having little knowledge of how and if they can utilise it. The Malta Data Portal contains 42 registers and 200 datasets to help accelerate AI adoption among Maltese business. Developing AI solutions is a complex and time-consuming process which requires a considerable amount of investment. Luckily, many tech firms have decided to make their AI projects opensource in a bid to accelerate learning and development. Furthermore, many mainstream pieces

A study…found that 85% of financial services leaders currently use some form of AI, triggered by the need for increased speed and efficiency and the opportunity for deeper datadriven insights of software, such as CRM solutions, now incorporate some AI features within them. Efforts are underway to increase the number of AI gurus on the island. The country will strengthen its core knowledge base of specialists by providing around 50 scholarships per year between 2020 and 2022, for students to undertake post-graduate studies in AI (Masters/PhD level) at the UoM. AI modules will soon be accessible as an optional module in all University of Malta courses, while at MCAST, they will be a compulsory part of all courses within the next three years. As the technologies start to disrupt business models and transform business functions, companies need to start thinking about how AI can be applied to their business today or risk getting left behind.

Many of Malta’s industries are well-suited to adopt AI solutions. For example, the recently published ‘AI in Financial Services’ global study — jointly conducted by




The Truth Behind G 5 David Debono gives a deep insight on 5G and what lies beneath.


t’s undeniable that technology is evolving at a rapid pace, which begs the question – can the infrastructure keep up with the developments which are rapidly becoming an integral part of our day-to-day use of technology? Just like with the growth of an economy, the infrastructure for technology needs to be maintained – or at times, upgraded to cope with a heavier demand for the use of data. The latest iteration in this network is the upgrade to a 5G network – a development that has brought with it many questions. What exactly differentiates 5G from its predecessors? What are the benefits behind this upgrade, and how do they apply to a small-island nation like Malta? What are the risks involved with the technology, and how will this impact us in the long-run? Let’s dive in and find out.

The first thing to understand, is that the term 5G does not refer to one system of technology but is an umbrella of fifth generation wireless technologies, deployed in 2019, which was developed for digital cellular networks to solve three current problems that have arisen as a result of the development of tech: 1. 2. 3.

The IoT – internet of things Rural access to the internet An increase in data rates across the board, for everyday consumption.

In an age of ever-growing dependency on data, the speed and amount of data available from providers is constantly on the grow – a demand which has created a need for an increase in the infrastructure – known as the edge of the network. Current antennas supplying access to the internet, based on a 3G/4G network, are built on a system of fibre-optic cabling, allowing the movement of highfrequency waves which carry the data to and from servers. Mobile technology works similarly, through a system of radio waves which are transmitted through the air. With each iteration of the network, bandwidth is increased, allowing more of the spectrum of wavelengths to be utilised. To give a tangible example, current Wi-Fi usage at home or in offices and covers a few hundred MHz in the 2.4 GHz band. An upgrade to a 5G network would create an increase in this bandwidth, solving these issues. What 5G technology does is to make use of very high-frequency bands. The irony is that the band of the spectrum which will be utilised for this transmission is the same band which was previously used for analogue television – which has since been replaced with digital transmissions. An increase in the range of frequency results in a decrease in the range of actual distance which is covered – which is why an upgrade of the infrastructure for rural areas is so essential.

The Internet of Things (IoT) As our devices become more integrated and home automation becomes a new way of life, with everything from our fridges to our entertainment systems carrying the capability of connecting to the internet, a much larger amount of data becomes required. Current IoT technologies work perfectly fine on a 4G system, the benefits of upgrading the network to 5G would lie primarily in the ease with which these integrated components work well together. Rural access to the internet In areas which are not as heavily developed as more urban spaces, many more antennas are required to grant better access to the internet. By increasing the bandwidth; and utilising higher-frequency waves to carry data (which in turn have a much shorter wavelength), more antennas are needed to boost the signal strength, as shorter wavelength transmissions are much weaker than low-frequency waves. This will also require a change in our mobile phones in terms of what sort of antennas will be installed in them. This will surely be seen as essential in countries where there are large rural areas which do not necessarily have an infrastructure to cope with this increased bandwidth; but in a small country like Malta, where there is very little distinction between countryside and citydwelling, the implications are practically negligible. The operational challenges faced by operators are based more on our population density and our landscape featuring several hills, which impede the transmission of high-frequency waves. Is there danger surrounding the use of 5G? The main concern among the population is one of the radio frequency (RF) power. It is essential to understand that the impact of long-term mobile phone usage cannot be established, as cellular communication is still in its infancy. MONEY


What is 5G, and how does it differ from the current infrastructure in place?

THE TRUTH IS THAT THE RF POWER OF 5G IS ACTUALLY LOWER THAN THAT OF 4G, IN TERMS OF ACTUAL EMITTED RADIATION Concerns around the dangers of mobile phone usage have been around for quite a while; and are based on the fact that mobile phone antennas are closer to our heads than antennas attached to the roof of a home. The truth is that the RF power of 5G is lower than that of 4G, in terms of actual emitted radiation. What an upgrade to a 5G network implies is an increase in the amount of radio wave transmissions; but not an increase in the overall strength of transmissions. What the implications of cellular technologies are is yet to be seen, most certainly not within our lifetimes. The reality is that it is our grandchildren who will be able to study what effects the radiation as a result of RF power have had on our health. What can be said with certainty, is that 5G technologies are no more, and no less dangerous than previous iterations – so if you were okay with having a transmitter/receiver of radio waves held to your head in the days of 3G, there’s no reason to be concerned about it in the advent of 5G. Do we actually require 5G? At the end of the day, being a smallisland nation, there isn’t much need currently for an upgrade to a 5G network. IoT has yet to pick up commercially to a mass-audience, internet speeds are already fast enough to guarantee instant consumption, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to boast a pretty much nation-wide network coverage. Having said this, as new technology emerges, with greater demands for data usage, who knows what the future holds? 55




Simon Lumsden and Carolin Hyzyk share 10 tips on how Maltese businesses can get back on their feet and step up their game following the Covid-19 saga.


any businesses in Malta and Gozo have been swimming in a sea of uncertainty for weeks because of the global coronavirus pandemic. Some may struggle to get back on their feet but if you want your company to bounce back once the battle against Covid-19 is finally won, you should start working on a plan now. By taking proactive steps, you can put your organisation on a more secure footing for future incidents and recover faster. This pandemic has clearly changed how you and your consumers, partners and employees interact with your business in the long run. Here are 10 key strategies to help your company survive this crisis and come back stronger than ever.


1. 1 Accept that it’s not ‘business as usual’ The pandemic has made most managing directors realise that they need to adopt new ways of working to be better prepared for the next global crisis. For example, video conferencing presents countless opportunities for businesses. It saves time, reduces travel expenses and has long been shown to help employees enjoy a better work/life balance. This, in turn, makes them feel more stable, settled, and happy. Operations should continue smoothly, securely and a plan to keep the company culture for employees striving, is a necessity. Now review your financial situation, prepare a look-out and get the applicable funding to support your business.

2 Prepare now for later 2. There’s no better time to reflect on how your business operates than now. For example, in recruitment think about the qualities you look for when considering an employee for a management position. What improvements can you make? What are your current suppliers doing to help your business weather the storm? Do we need to consider other segments or markets for expansion to allow our business to have a stronger base and multiple channels of income? Do you need to upgrade technology to automate and save time? Can you start planning your Sales or Christmas promotion now? 3. 3 Embrace your brand values If you haven’t thought about how your brand is perceived in the eyes of your potential audience, partners and prospective employees yet, then now is the time. Make sure there is consistent branding across all your communication channels, including your website, emails to customers, social media, invoices and beyond. Consider where you can tweak to increase the customer lifetime, the respective value and uplift the customer experience. Remain professional always but show the human side of your brand.


You control your company’s social media. Be positive. Inspire your audiences by sharing the warming moments, the heroes, the good stuff. How are you embracing your brand values on your Facebook on Instagram or your LinkedIn page? It makes a huge difference. More people follow brands on social media than follow celebrities. Make sure you are the brand your audience wants in their lives. If your brand excels along the customer journey, your happy clients become brand advocates. Don’t miss out.


4 Get super smart on social 4. In Malta, more people than ever are buying via social media. When consumers see a product that they like on Instagram or Facebook, they want to be able to buy it there and then. Maltese businesses seeking to attract customers this way need to place more emphasis on their social media strategies and move from ‘like’ to ‘buy’ buttons, putting their products just a click away. The inconvenient truth is that our society is moving with big steps towards the ‘instant culture’. Live chat, buy now, receive the same day, enjoy and share instantly on stories or live posts. But remember that negative experiences with your brand can be shared just as fast, so be alert and hands-on on your social channels. Treat your business Facebook page just like you would treat your personal one. 5 Ramp up your digital headquarters

6 Rise & Shine - Website Ranking

Some companies in Malta really struggled with their marketing efforts during the darkest days of the pandemic. Several abandoned it altogether. You may need to rethink your marketing strategy entirely to adjust to your smarter, more tech-savvy customers. The convenience of getting things done without leaving the sofa has changed the way they behave forever. Even those who stayed away from online shopping, probably downloaded some fun to their phone or tablet, such as recipes, games, news, fitness guides or simply communication apps to chat with their loved ones near and far. Covid-19 pushed forward the digital transformation across the age groups in Malta and around the globe. People had so much more time to consume content and reached a point where pandemic-related news were too dominant. Brands which took a genuine approach to the feelings of people, circumstances and lives won big.

Real estate agencies, gyms, cinemas, cafes, and similar businesses have had an awful start to 2020. Many businesses in Malta till then did not give their website the attention it deserves to position the brand and drive leads or convert sales. With Covid-19, the shop facade was replaced by online stores and social media channels as only those were accessible to customers. Many businesses with outdated and slow websites struggled with complaints, offered little in the way of valuable content and were often nowhere to be found. It is time to acknowledge that taking your brand digital is an investment coming with a great ROI, not a cost to your business. Showcase your avant-garde products and entrepreneurial mindset through digital experiences that are not only user-friendly but inspire, drive engagement and ultimately revenue. Every business website needs to operate with valuable search engine optimization principles. Utilise keywords people search for, create content your users care about and connect your brand to recognised digital platforms to elevate your ranking all the way to the top of search engines.

7 Business Travel & New Market Entries Business travel worldwide has come to a standstill because of the pandemic. When it will come back is anybody’s guess. But many firms have already adjusted and some admit that they won’t travel as much once coronavirus recedes and will use video conferencing and other methods of collaboration instead. The one thing that business trips still have going for them, is the human connection, that striking first impression, that fun productive lunch out, and valuable intercultural understanding. According to the Harvard Business Review* a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email. A video conference call comes closer, but it’s still not as effective. Plans to expand into new markets overseas have also been hit. But you can use this time to work smarter by planning ahead and do more thinking to refine your business strategy and communication plan.




8 Is remote working the way forward? Whilst not applicable to all industries, the shift towards an increase in remote working is now gathering pace. There are lots of good reasons to allow your staff to continue work from home. They’ll waste less time commuting and be more productive. You potentially won’t have to pay for office space or supplies. Working from home isn’t just good for employees, it can benefit you too. But remember that not everyone enjoys working from home. Others require more hands-on training and supervision on the spot. But most importantly that corporate culture that connects the individuals to one strong, integrated team and empowers to deliver more, often demands social interaction. A healthy balance and flexibility may just be the way forward to succeed. 9 Prepare your office

10 Work together

Those of us heading back to the office will need to adapt to a different way of working. With the health and safety of your employees, your number one concern is to think about the social distancing protocols needed in your office. Some large international companies lead the way by having split their staff in half and only having 50% of the team working onsite concurrently. Others have removed every second desk to allow a healthy distance. You might also adopt a clear desk policy and cleaning procedures of the workstations on a daily basis. Just think of all those germs lurking on your keyboard. Make basic hygiene part of your company culture. If one needs to provide health and safety requisites, can you order these now? Do you possibly have the option to brand them? Take a leading role in this matter your employees, your partners and your brand perception will thank you for your efforts.

We’re all in this together. It has been a stressful and difficult time. Be kind, be considerate, be thoughtful, and work hand in hand with each other. If there was ever a time to do the right thing, it’s now. New collaborations can open doors and grow into opportunities you might not have imagined. Succeeding together is most rewarding. Being considered an expert in the field which works together in a network of professionals puts you on the right canvas. There was plenty of speculation that the global economy would never recover after the September 11 attacks in 2001, only for it to bounce back. Behaviours will change and evolve as they always have because of advancing technology. Successful businesses will have to adapt to new norms early and constantly, take leading roles in utilising rising opportunities for customer interaction, service delivery and communication. It’s not too long ago that some scoffed at the idea of buying clothes from a website without having tried them for size first. As history, has shown, Malta always goes from strong to stronger, and withstands the storms to come out smarter and sturdier than before so that’s what we’ll do once again. *






EYE S Eyes ON on AI



Tech.mag, TECH.MAG, delvesDELVES into the new INTO European THE NEW Commission’s EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S human-centric HUMAN-CENTRIC approachAPPROACH to AI after it TO proposed AI AFTER to introduce IT PROPOSED TO INTROlegislation DUCE LEGISLATION in this sector inIN a bid THIS to uphold SECTOR EUIN values. A BID TO UPHOLD EU VALUES.


nforcing the EU’s toughest privacy law, GDPR, hasn’t been a walk in the park and now the new European Commission is seeking to legislate on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a bid to take a human-centric approach to AI across Member States. However, technology experts say that there’s a fine line between legislating in favour of European values and hindering the advancement of new technologies such as AI. As much as the EU wants Europe to remain an engine room for innovation, it will seek to take an in-depth look at AI’s impact on society.


Following the EU’s publication of guidelines on ethics in April 2019, newly appointed European Commission President von der Lyen pledged to propose AI legislation. The rules governing AI can easily prove to be a headache to implement however. It is the fact that AI is about performing tasks that previously needed a human element that has caught the eye of policy makers. Facial recognition, for instance, is becoming the more sophisticated. It is used in airports and venues that draw the crowds. The aim of this technology is for law enforcement agencies to prevent and solve crimes MONEY MONEY

but concerns about the privacy, safety and legislation regarding the use of the technology hangs in the balance. When the new GDPR rules were introduced, it took two solid years for companies to be compliant with hefty fines for those who do not comply with such rules. Reportedly, there has been criticism on the lack of enforcement in relation to breaches tied to GDPR across Member States. However, there are companies who have been slapped with hefty fines for GDPR breaches which quickly slams such an argument.


THE WAY FORWARD The EU has been exemplary in setting standards and regulating in terms of rights for EU citizens in a bid to tackle various citizens’ concerns. The idea of overregulating however can dent innovation so it’s necessary that a balance is struck. The AI High-Level Expert Group, to cite an example, was set up to exchange views and get feedback from civil society, the public sector, industry and other experts. The EU has consulted and informed on practically all proposed legislation and policies before putting any of them into practice. It is therefore pertinent that history repeats itself when it comes to regulating AI too.

While China and the US are investing heavily in AI, Europe still lags behind and new initiatives and investments in technological advances cannot be hampered. As much as it is vital that EU values are kept at all times, innovation must continue to be pushed. The Digital Europe Programme is a step in the right direction with a proposed €9.2 billion worth of funding as part of the EU’s budget covering 2021-2027 but must be revisited every now and again in a fast-changing world of technology. The programme is aimed at boosting investments in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced digital skills, and ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society. Its goal is to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the global digital economy and increase its technological autonomy. Regarding the ethical questions revolving around AI, there remains quite a few that are unanswered such as what are the risks of regulation in such a sector? MONEY MONEY

COMMISSION PRESENTS W H I T E PA P E R O N FEBRUARY 20 On February 19, 2020, the Commission presented its long-awaited proposal for comprehensive regulation of artificial intelligence (“AI”) at EU level. According to the White Paper, the key issue for any future legislation would be to determine the scope of its application. The assumption is that any legislation would apply to products and services relying on AI. Furthermore, the EC identifies “data” and “algorithms” as the main elements that compose AI, but also stresses that the definition of AI needs to be sufficiently flexible to provide legal certainty while also allowing for the legislation to keep up with technical progress. While the EU has its eyes on AI, all stakeholders involved are closely watching the new Commission’s next move, however in the light of Covid-19, most items have been put on the back-burner until this pandemic which swept the world over, comes to an end. 61


Fixing the AI skills gap EDUCAT I ON

Professor Matthew Montebello, an associate professor at the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the faculty of ICT, University of Malta, discusses with Dayna Clarke the rising need in the skills required for the phenomenal growth of AI.

Where is AI making the most significant impact on businesses today? AI is pervasively providing an impact within every domain and every business niche as it provides powerful tools and techniques to extract and contribute added-value information and significant business knowledge that would otherwise go unnoticed or taken advantage of. The facility and dexterity of employing AI algorithms to the masses of data being generated by businesses as well as their application to other areas like image processing, fintech applications, natural language processing, and numerous others is successfully and lucratively happening with plenty of room for further AI-amalgamation in every aspect of the business operations. AI expert Dr Kai-Fu Lee has said that focusing on incremental gains like improving customer service is missing the point. In his view, the real opportunity of AI is for companies to rethink entire business models. Where are we starting to see that?



AI can assist in optimising all business operations and within any aspect of the same business. I think that we will miss the point when we limit or categorise what, when and how to employ AI within a business scenario. AI has been seen to be extremely beneficial in the optimisation of processes, be it within the line of production but also within administrative tasks as well as sales, stocks, planning, scheduling and forecasting. McKinsey research suggests that between 75 million and 375 million people globally may need to switch occupational categories by 2030. The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs’ report also found that 35% of core skills will change between 2015 and 2020. Are businesses investing enough in human capital to bridge any emerging skills gaps? New skills will need to be acquired while other skills have yet to be defined as the technology and the entire business scenario keeps dynamically redefining the domain related. Industry4.0 itself is going through such transitions and like any other (r)evolution occupations are transferred rather then lost from one set of skills to another.


Are the UoM developing new ICT courses for this rising demand? How are you currently skilling people? The UoM through the Faculty of ICT and other bodies is very sensitive to the industry needs yet still maintains to transmit to our students skills not only to deal with the current business needs but skills to adapt their skills and reskill themselves to deal with potentially any need that might arise in their profession. Rather than focussing on specific skills, proprietary software packages, or hard-wired techniques, we focus on generic skills of how to acquire new knowledge and skills, underlying concepts behind all kinds of applications, development competences that go beyond a company or a brand, as well as abilities to analyse new situations and apply their knowledge and experience in search of a possible solution. Tom Puthiyamadam of PwC has written about how the ‘half-life of skills’ is rapidly falling due to constant technological change in the digital era. He suggests existing workers will need to learn and upskill to stay relevant continually. How can companies do this? Companies need to see beyond their current needs and profit margins but focus on healthy workers schemes by investing in their training to deal with new and novel situations and apply their skills to deal with the same situation. The workers’ expertise, including soft skills, is a direct reflection of the business direction a company takes and needs to drizzle down all the way from management to the floor workers forcing companies to rethink their modus operandi as well as their attitude towards workers as peers rather than employees.


Do companies face being left behind if they don’t move ahead with such technologies? It is not that they will be left behind, but the chances that other upcoming companies who recognise the signs of the times overtake them or push them out of business is bigger. The aim of every business is the aspiration to keep doing well, if not increase and prosper the same business, however with such ambitions comes hard work, wise decisions, and an open-eye towards the future. M MO ON NE EY Y



Taking Off

Tech.mag explores Take Off, the business incubator based at the University of Malta which helps aspiring entrepreneurs to be successful.


he Take Off Seed Fund Award was also launched, in collaboration with the central government. But how can one’s creative idea become a reality? Take Off is a vital entity in Malta’s start-up business environment. Operating from the University of Malta Campus, Take Off offers thorough and practical services to support aspiring entrepreneurs, both through mentoring and educational programmes – and they are getting real results, as a premier business incubator. Positively, there are no specific requirements for who can join; one can head there with a fresh idea and learn how to make it blossom, or take up the freely available online (Take Off. business enterprise courses which hand-hold anyone needing to start off or even take it up a notch and sign up for the very unique Masters course in Knowledge-based Entrepreneurship run by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation (CEBI) under the management



Take Off operates. The programmes are based on findings from decades of research and hands-on experience with enterprises worldwide. A study conducted in the UK found that 70% of start-ups following the model also adopted at Take Off, were sustainable after five years, in direct contrast with the 70% that typically fail within that same timeframe. Take Off also partners up with the Malta Social Impact Awards and provides both a series of workshops for applicants from Voluntary Organisations (VOs) needing to develop social enterprises and augmented by follow-up mentoring. Take Off also runs two seed fund schemes, namely the Maritime Seed Fund awards for proposals related to the maritime sector, and the Take Off seed fund award for generic Steam start-up proposals. Prizes consist of seed funding to support in kick-starting the enterprise and associated mentoring to help the fledgling enterprises to progress. Fair Artificial Intelligence Educator (FAIE) and The Wellness Pod were both



awarded the winning funding at last year’s social impact awards, amounting to a combined total of €83,500, as well as non-financial support. FAIE, led by Professor Alexiei Dingli, is an app aimed at optimising the learning of students through personalised forms of online education. It received the most substantial sum of financial support at €50,000. “Aside from the awards, our Master’s programme is ideal for anyone wishing to learn the key principles for developing sustainable enterprise. After having spent a lifetime working in very diverse sectors, I was completely amazed by the transformative process that I went through while undertaking the course of studies,” incubator manager Joseph Bartolo a CEBI alumnus, said. Applicants need not have the standard academic requirements, and work-life experience is very much considered an asset. “It’s not just suitable for those with new level entry, but we have also seen incredible success for those wishing to change their approach to sustain the longevity of an existing business. For example, in Malta, mainly, we see many family businesses, where younger members are keen to plan for the future and implement fresh ideas.” The Master in Knowledge-Based Entrepreneurship (MEnt) is designed to impart knowledge to Science, Technology, Engineering and Media graduates, allowing them to become

successful entrepreneurs and launch their sustainable business ventures, and convince financiers and financial entities to finance their projects. Following an introduction to entrepreneurship, the students cover topics in Creativity, Innovation, Marketing, Strategy, Business Planning, Finance, Risk Management and Performance Management, all focusing on the fundamental requirements of entrepreneurs. Students are personally mentored throughout, to sculpt their proposed business plan with Professor Juanito Camilleri Rector Emeritus and Chairman CEBI and Prof. Russell Smith, Director CEBI formerly from the University of Oxford and one of the principal designers for the MEnt. On Covid-19, Joseph is quick to add: “Our doors are open, we are here and ready to help people change and adapt their business,” referring to the many companies switching to an online presence and finding the right way to proceed during this difficult time.

SUCCESS STORIES Since its inception, the hub has seen many success stories come to light, such as Get Hitched, a digital wedding service finder, where couples looking to get married in Malta and Gozo can get in touch with multiple wedding suppliers at once. In the first 15 months of launching thousands of couples from all over the world have filled well over 4,000 requests for marriages happening in Malta & Gozo. MONEY

Another is inMalta Travel, an online interface where people can interact with their surroundings by placing informative marks on a map visible to the community around them, with the aim to aggregate all location-based information. In Malta Travel is developing a very useful AI kernel to turn their app into a powerful platform proposal. Tech MT spoke to one of last year’s Take Off Seed fund winners, Angele Giuliano, from successful startup iSmart about the winning product. “iSmart is an EdTech solution that focuses on helping to improve reading comprehension especially for those with learning difficulties (dyslexia, ADHD and other auditory or visual problems). We aim to give back confidence to students struggling to read, write and study.” By means of a free app, which can be downloaded on Android devices, students will have the opportunity to explore all the different functions of the iSmart app and identify the best way that works for them when it comes to reading comprehension. iSmart includes functions such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text, mind mapping, letter colouring, special text formatting, reading ruler and many more. To date, iSmart has won many local and international awards - the Malta Innovation Summit Award and the United Nations World Summit Award badge in 2018, the Finnish xEdu Accelerator recognition and CERPRIZE in 2019 and more recently the Take Off Seed Fund Award. This last award has given the 65


iSmart team the support they needed to focus on improving their business model, their contacts with local and international stakeholders and having a sounding board with whom to discuss business strategy. Consequently, a potential collaboration is also now brewing with the Linguistics Department of the University of Malta to ensure that our app remains at the forefront of technology.”

SMARTAGRIFARMS The secret to start-up success, one of the last year’s Take Off winners, Alex Johnson, from SmartAgriFarms, explains. Jake Spiteri and I are the cofounders of SmartAgriFarms, together with the assistance and guidance from Prof. Mule Stango. We both graduated with a B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Malta. I later worked shortly as a Quality Manager at a private company, after which I returned to University to undergo a PhD in Chemistry in 2019. Jake currently works as a Regulatory Associate in a leading food manufacturing private company. We both decided to work together and start a business after taking part in ClimateLaunchPad in 2015. SmartAgriFarms R&D (SAF) is a business idea which will focus on the design and manufacturing of a novel hydroponic farming system in Malta for use in any climate condition annually. One of the main goals is to build a modular hydroponic system with customisable dimensions which can be set up anywhere 66

in the world while being able to grow several varieties of agricultural produce. This system can be implemented indoors; thus, growth can be conducted all-year-round with no change in crops yields. This will also ensure reliable and predictable output, unlike traditional farming. Given we both study and work in Malta, we felt it would be more sensible to start this business locally for the timebeing, especially given the problems Malta will inevitably face with land scarcity. ClimateLauchPad (which was organised at the Take Off Business Incubator), we had a good idea what kinds of support we get from the hub. Being selected as one of the winners of the award helped us financially get started on this venture, while also providing us with support to help overcome certain aspects of the business. Though Covid-19 has been a terrible blunder to many companies, we can consider ourselves lucky since for the time-being, we are still working the system in an isolated area. We are not yet ready to sell the system, so, in essence, the project is still being perfected, which doesn’t require external sources or transactions for the time being. Furthermore, the nature of the project, which will ultimately be to allow various consumers to grow their own produce, will eventually be very welcome as it is one step of money to ensure food security.

we have seen many but relatively easy issues to solve. Having said this, one ‘major’ aspect that can be a challenge is the lighting systems required for hydroponics. The reason for this is various plants may need slight variations in the light wavelengths they absorb, in terms of light frequency, intensity, and duration. The combination of these will have a significant effect on the efficiency of both plant growth (time duration), and the overall yield. It is indeed true that we live in a world where technology is growing fast in any aspect of the market. One thing Jake and I understood is that as time goes by, food is generally taken for granted locally. However, as with many things, sustainability applies to a certain degree over a span of time, after which, improvements need to be made to keep up with demand. This was key for us to design a new type of hydroponic system that would help cater for the many needs we face including land scarcity, a reduction in the knowledge for agriculture, and food security, not just locally but also abroad. Apart from the modular set up we designed, we are also formulating plant nutrient solutions specifically for hydroponics which will be unique for various plants, while ensuring the system is free of pesticides and fertilisers. Overall, we have received great feedback and encouragement to get the business going from both potential clients and mentors, and we are very optimistic about the outcome. We hope that this business will eventually be self-sustainable and grow into something that can employ while achieving the goal of improving food quality using modern technology on centuriesold agricultural produce. A little joke we have is graduating in science to become modern-day farmers. I think one fundamental notion for advice is the importance of finding a balance between perseverance on a problem until its solved and knowing when to push aside an idea and think of another solution from another perspective. Don’t assume others have already done an idea or done it better because there is always room for improvement for anything. On our journey this far, we have met many great people and learned much, and it’s been great so far, yet still very exciting to see what’s next.

Though many business models typically find several obstacles along the way, we can say that for now, MONEY


EU’S INNOVATION POLICY What’s the role of the European Parliament?

A quest for innovation, how does Malta compare?

The objective of the EU’s Innovation Policy is to turn research results into new and better services and products, to remain competitive in the global marketplace and improve the quality of life of Europe’s citizens.

The annual European Innovation Scoreboard compares the research and innovation performance of the EU Member States and selected third countries and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems.

Over the years, the European Parliament adopted numerous resolutions, which have further strengthened the EU’s innovation policy, including a resolution on May 22, 2008 to increase efforts to reduce the administrative burden of enterprises; another resolution on October 26, 20on t11 which focuses on the importance of developing closer cooperation between research institutes and industry; and finally, a resolution on July 6, 2016, on synergies for innovation.

The scoreboard divides Member States into four groups: innovation leaders (score more than 20 per cent above EU average), influential innovators (score between 90-120 per cent of EU average), moderate innovators (score between 50-90 per cent of EU average), and modest innovators (score below 50 per cent of EU average). In the latest edition of the EIS, released on June 22, 2019 – and assessing the 2018 performance – Malta was included in the moderate innovator’s category, together with Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. The scoreboard shows that Malta’s most potent innovation dimensions are intellectual assets and innovation-friendly environments. The country also scores high on Trademark applications, Design applications, and Employment in knowledge-intensive activities. The report also shows the weakest dimensions are finance and support, and linkages, both of which suffered a decline in performance from 2010 to 2018. In the report’s overview, it was noted that the EU innovation performance has increased in 25 countries since 2011. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Lithuania, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and the Netherlands, which are the fastestgrowing innovators.




Stress Busters Tech.mag gives a rundown of the apps available for download that are sure to get that load off your chest, especially during a crisis.


nxiety is an extremely common but a truly disruptive experience. Dealing with anxiety can mean sleepless nights, missed opportunities, feeling sick, and fullblown panic attacks that can keep you from feeling like your full self. It may cause you to stop doing the things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering a lift, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety may progress. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. Therapy with a professional is often a huge help, but knowing you’re armed with the tools to confront, dissolve, or embrace your anxious thoughts and feelings can be the slice of empowerment you need in between sessions. Did you know there’s a wealth of apps to get started on managing your anxiety? Given the situation right now with Covid-19, even if meditation apps give you a break from the news and a chance to chill out for 10 minutes, they’re more than worth it. Headspace, one of the most popular meditation apps around, first launched ten years ago. Since then, hundreds of other meditation apps have been created, and that means finding the best meditation app could be overwhelming. Here at Tech we have done the homework for you, check out our top wellbeing apps for 2020.


HEADSPACE This app is a great first port of call for beginners looking to get to grips with meditating. You’ll soon notice there are so many different types of meditation to try, for all kinds of situations. Although it’s been around for a long time, the app has continuously improved since its inception. Whether it’s a simple mindfulness practice, meditation for kids, for sleep or for when you’re busy, there’s even mindful cooking. The app also offers short meditations for emergencies or the occasional random quiet moment. Another positive is the user-friendly design, which includes a warm interface, it contains quirky illustrations and a wellorganised library of courses.

ROOTD Rootd comes with features designed to help people during all stages of managing panic attacks and anxiety. It includes a panic button for when you are experiencing a panic attack, lessons on understanding panic attacks and anxiety, short-term changes a person can make in their life to manage anxiety and feel more in control (think diet and exercise), and long-term changes that lead to significant shifts in how one thinks about anxiety and panic attacks in their life (think sleeping, meditating, and even self-talk)


Sleep, meditation, and relaxation are in your hands with Calm, another popular mindfulness app. These guided meditations are perfect for complete novices through to the well versed, and you have your pick when it comes to how long you can dedicate to the app each day. It is well documented, sleep is essential for managing stress, but it’s also one of the first things to become problematic when you’re enduring anxiety.

If you were ever a fan of those adult colouring books that were once all the rage, you’ll adore Colorfy. Colorfy is an adult colouring book brought to life in the digital realm. With a selection of images and mandalas to choose from, or the option to upload your sketches to colour in, you can spend hours in a flow state or focused meditation through this app. Channelling your attention into the stunning designs can distract from your anxious thoughts and help calm you down. Forget about self-critique, as the simple click-to-fill function of the app means reassuringly you’ll never wander outside the lines.

In addition to an assortment of daily meditations, Calm features nature sounds and sleep stories read by soothing voices or famous soothing voices, including Matthew McConaughey.



Panic attacks can be incredibly intense, and this app focuses on them in a different way to the Rootd app. Stop Panic reminds you of your strengths and ability to cope when panic is triggered. There is a built-in diary to help you notice and challenge the thinking that leads to panic. The app also features audio content and reading that empowers you with the cognitive-behavioural therapy-based techniques that can help shut panic attacks down. Panic Assistance audio is your voice of reason mid-panic attack. At the same time, the Emotional Training track enables you to reconfigure your thoughts and associations to bring more calm into your life.

Are you having trouble drifting off to sleep? Racing thoughts and ruminations are hallmarks of anxiety, but you can slow down, breathe deeply, and clear your thoughts with the gentle sounds and sights of nature with this app. From thunder and rain to crackling fires to bird sounds and more, there’s something for everyone. Set the app timer to listen while you gently drift off to sleep, or why not set one of the soothing tracks as your morning alarm so you can start your day with something far less anxiety-inducing than the usual noisy affair.







Cutting-edge design, advanced technology and beautiful objects. Tech.mag helps you invest in creativity.



New from Bose, these sunglasses connect to Bluetooth and play music near your ears without everyone else hearing what you’re listening to.

It’s not only waterproof, but it also allows for 2-way audio communication, customisable motion detection, day and night coverage, free cloud storage, and more.






From the comfort of your own home you can experience quality ingredients and the premium pours you’d expect from a cocktail lounge.

Did you know most phones are dirtier than your toilet? Use this must-have UV phone sanitiser to get rid of 99.9% of all the nasty bacteria on your phone, keys, credit cards, and more.




LARQ SELF-CLEANING WATER BOTTLE The future of tech is here and it’s in the form of a selfcleaning water bottle! Using special UV-C LED light the LARQ will clean the water inside your water bottle and the water bottle itself. Amazing!

EMBER TEMPERATURE CONTROL SMART MUG Keep your coffee nice and hot and at the temp you want it to be. You can control it via the app right from your smartphone and you’ll never have to worry about lukewarm beverages again.



This 1080p HD camera (with night vision) has two way audio, a barking alert sensor, and even allows you to give your favourite pup a treat via the free app no matter where you are in the world.

Place this little gadget on your back and you’ll get a slight vibration every time you’re slouching. The results are tracked via the app and will let you know how you’re progressing, and will even give you a training plan.



PIX DIGITAL CUSTOMISABLE BACKPACK This is the coolest backpack we’ve ever seen! The LED screen allows you to create just about any colourful design you want. And, it’s totally waterproof. €240




NEW AMAZON ECHO SHOW 5 Catch up on today’s news and sports highlights. Watch TV shows, movies, and trailers. Cook along with step-by-step recipes. It’s the perfect size for adding glance able entertainment to any room. €90




How to dress up to work from home.



etting ready for the office was part of my daily routine; it gave me the prospect to start my day with some creativity, spontaneity, and inspiration. Since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions a few months ago, we all had to adapt to a new way of living. My workfrom-home wardrobe has largely been a case of trial and error. For me, the important challenge has been in striking a balance between laidback and polished, to feel I’m dressed comfortably enough for a day at home, while still looking presentable enough for my Zoom or Skype calls with my colleagues.

All items available from




LAUREN MANOOGIAN Horizontal huipil pima cotton and silk-blend, sweater €370 / LAUREN MANOOGIAN Pima cotton and silk-blend wrap, midi skirt €470 / VINCE Glyn leather and suede, slides €250 MR P. Suede utility, jacket €825 / MAISON KITSUNÉ Logo-Appliquéd cotton jersey, t-Shirt €75 / COMMON PROJECTS Original achilles leather, sneakers €340 / MAISON KITSUNÉ City tapered cropped cotton-twill drawstring, trousers €185


Back in 2016, Conrad started working on a new concept that uses AI (artificial intelligence) and human creativity to help people make better clothing and fashion choices. Fast forward 2020, co-founder Dylan Seychell is on board, and the first version of the APP (android) launches in Q3 2020.


MR P. Suede utility, jacket €825 / MAISON KITSUNÉ LogoAppliquéd cotton jersey, t-Shirt €75 / COMMON PROJECTS Original achilles leather, sneakers €340 / MAISON KITSUNÉ city tapered cropped cotton-twill drawstring, trousers €185

JACQUEMUS, Coup de Soleil camp-collar embroidered, cotton shirt €285 / YMC, hand me down tapered cropped pinstriped cotton and linen-blend, trousers €200 / MULO, collapsible-heel suede, loafers €170


All items available from

WEDNESDAY FENDI, logo-appliquéd cotton-jersey, t-shirt €550 / FENDI, slim-fit tapered logoappliquéd cotton-blend jersey, sweatpants €650 / ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, exaggerated-sole leather, sneakers €395 NILI LOTAN Albany cashmere, hoodie €460 / NILI LOTAN Luna cropped cotton and linen-blend twill tapered, pants €415 / RE/DONE 80s Basketball perforated leather and suede, sneakers €350

FRIDAY MR P. Striped cotton, polo shirt €185 / MR P. Navy slim-fit tapered pleated wool and linenblend, trousers €195 / MR P. Larry suede, sneakers €250

ISABEL MARANT Yacolt gathered crinkled cottonvoile, mini dress €650 / THE ATTICO Flora leather, sandals €480 120% Camp-collar floral print, linen shirt €250 / THEORY Nevins nylon drawstring, shorts €145 / BIRKENSTOCK Arizona suede, sandals €80 GANNI Printed cotton-jersey T-shirt €85 / GANNI Tie-front checked crepe, midi skirt €175 / ACNE STUDIOS Leather, suede and mesh, sneakers €390







SONY LAUNCHES THE LONG-AWAITED PLAYSTATION 5 To date, the PlayStation 4 makes up just over 50 per cent of the entire market, with more than 107 million consoles sold compared to the Xbox One’s almost paltry 47m. The secret sauce? A steady combination of affordable hardware and countless stellar. So, no prizes for guessing what Sony’s big pitch for the PlayStation 5 is. As showcased in its hour-long unveiling, the PS5 is premised on a slew of great new games that you can’t play anywhere else. From Horizon: Forbidden West to SpiderMan: Miles Morales, it’s one hell of an opening pitch for a console that’s set to face a considerably more formidable foe this time around in the Xbox Series X: a rival machine that promises to be more powerful than the PlayStation 5 and is unlikely to shortchange itself again with a deficit of must-play titles. Sony still hasn’t revealed much about PlayStation 5’s pricing, release date or backwards compatibility with the PlayStation 4, but we do know for certain that the Xbox Series X edges ahead of it in both the processing and graphics card departments. While both consoles are packing similar custom AMD internals under the hood, Microsoft’s machine is roughly ten per cent more powerful on paper. If the PlayStation 5 does have an ace up its sleeve, it’s the super-speedy SSD (solid-state drive) that Sony is banking on being a game-changer. Replacing the traditional mechanical hard drive found in both the PlayStation 4 and Pro, it promises to deliver much faster loading times – a godsend for our ever-decreasing attention spans. That Sony sneakily announced two versions of the PlayStation 5 – one with an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and another purely digital console – should help ease its burden on your cash flow too, even though the console’s pricing information is being held back for the moment. Either way, there’s plenty of time between now and the end of the year to make up your mind, with plenty more gaming goodness to salivate over. 74

RESEARCH LAB OPENAI TO RELEASE TEXT TOOL PRODUCT IT ONCE CALLED DANGEROUS OpenAI, the machine learning non-profit co-founded by Elon Musk, has released its first commercial product: a rentable version of a text generation tool the organisation once deemed too dangerous to release. Last year, OpenAI formed a forprofit arm intended to help it raise more money, which the firm’s CEO Sam Altman, a former president of startup incubator Y Combinator, said was needed to pay the enormous computing bills required for big A.I. projects. Around the same time, Microsoft invested $1 billion in the organisation and became its “preferred partner for commercialising new A.I. technologies.” Dubbed simply “the API”, the new service lets businesses directly access the most powerful version of GPT-3, OpenAI’s general-purpose text generation AI. It will mark the first commercial uses of a technology which stunned the industry in February 2019 when OpenAI first revealed its progress in teaching a computer to read and write. The group was so impressed by the capability of its new creation that it was initially MONEY

wary of publishing the full version, warning that it could be misused for ends the nonprofit had not foreseen.

“We will terminate API access for obviously harmful usecases, such as harassment, spam, radicalisation, or astroturfing [masking who is behind a message]. But we also know we can’t anticipate all the possible consequences of this technology, so we are launching today in a private beta [test version] rather than general availability.” OpenAI was founded with a $1bn (£0.8bn) endowment in 2015, backed by Musk and others, “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity”. Musk has since left the board but remains as a donor.


HAND DELIVERED DIRECT TO YOUR BOAT Informative and exclusive content, high profile interviews, sailing destinations and lifestyle. Available at all marinas, affiliated businesses, Embassies, 5-star boutique/hotels and sailing clubs. For advertising/distribution

SUMMER EDITIONS july • sept Follow us on

Business Mobile


Unlimited Data

No Speed Limits

Infinity Mobile Flexible mobile plans for your business. Now offering you unlimited data with no speed limits.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.