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IFR

& Beyond

iGaming | Fintech | Real Estate


WELCOME MESSAGE Welcome to the 1st edition of the ‘IFR & Beyond’ magazine! In recent years, the iGaming and Real Estate sectors have been leading industries here in Malta, and with Fintech also getting in seriously among the action, we can say that the inter-relatedness of these sectors was our base philosophy for creating the concept of the IFR Champions Cup.

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From the outset, we would like to thank all of our sponsors and collaborators, without whose generous help, very little, if anything, would have materialized, and who, importantly, believed in our vision in bringing the iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate industries together under one roof with the aim of networking, team bonding and fun, whilst at the same time, not forgetting charity foundations who were to benefit from the whole exercise too. This time round we decided to give a helping hand to Puttinu Cares and Bjorn Formosa’s ALS Foundation.


This 1st issue of the ‘IFR & Beyond’ magazine features some great and insightful interviews and articles from experts in their respective fields, who we were honoured to have as guest speakers at the Opening Ceremony. In this 1st edition too, one can also find interviews with members of the 1st , 2nd and 3rd placed teams as well as with individual award winners. An eye-fest of photo collages from the event should make for a more memorable publication. From our grand Opening Ceremony and Official Live Draw held at the InterContinental Hotel in St. Julian’s, to two days of great football, thrilling moments and entertainment at the IFR Village at the Marsa Sports Grounds, with hand on heart, even though we certainly had our apprehensions, we feel confident enough to say that it was all worthwhile, in more ways than one.

We hope to see you all at next edition of the IFR Champions Cup and hope that you enjoy reading this magazine!

Nora, Nikola, Andrew and Yiannis 2


For A Cause Events Ltd – What is it all about and why was it set up?

For a Cause Events

ltd

For A Cause Events Ltd is a company that was set up by four close friends: Nikola Vasovic, Yiannis Paraskevas, Nora Schembri and Andrew Micaleff Trigona. The company’s vision is about organising all types of events with a portion of the proceeds from any organised event being set aside and donated to charity. Soon after the formation of the company we were able to hold our first event - The IFR Champions Cup 2018!

MEET THE TEAM

Nikola

is an entrepreneur and sports fanatic whose vision is to build ‘For A Cause Events Ltd’ into a unique events management company that will organise a variety of premium events for selected industries and which has a giveback policy to selected charity foundations. The plan is to grow the company into a one-stop shop for event enthusiasts and digital marketers sharing similar values. Nikola has a corporate background, having worked for two big-four consulting companies, Deloitte and KPMG (in Malta). He has recently graduated with an Executive MBA and is currently part of the sportsbook department at Betsson Group.

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Yiannis is a Greek-born entrepreneur with a passion for business, travel, self-development & sports. His original career path was in hospitality management in which he developed his skillset both locally and internationally for over 10 years. He then invested into real estate and eventually became a branch partner in the Attard office of Malta’s strongest and fastest growing real estate company, QuickLets & Zanzi Homes. When the opportunity came along to join forces with his current IFR partners on yet another exciting business venture and to create this extraordinary event’s management company called ‘For a Cause Events’, it was a no brainer for him.

Nora is a beautician, specialised in the provision of make-up services to her clients. She has been involved in the beauty industry for almost a decade now. Having said that, Nora wanted to make a difference and decided to assist with the organisation of the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup. From then on, Nora became part of the ‘For A Cause Events Ltd’ family, leaving a mark through her hard work and dedication. Nora enjoys making people happy and hence fits perfectly into the role of COO of the Company.

Andrew is a sports enthusiast originally with a teaching background. He has since been working in the Real Estate sector for nearly 5 years and is currently a branch partner and letting manager within the Attard Branch of the Quicklets & Zanzi Homes Franchise. Andrew’s vast background of sports together with a unique skillset has helped him to join fellow friends and partners Nikola, Nora & Yiannis in developing the idea and creating the concept of the IFR Champions Cup through their event’s management company For A Cause Events Ltd, where a portion of proceeds of any events go to charity.


Contents WHAT IS

IFR? 07

iGAMING FINTECH REAL ESTATE

Finding Malta’s Sweet Spot between iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate

by Mr. Russell Mifsud

Interview with Mr. Johan Zammit

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Interview with Mr. Steve Mercieca

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27

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Glass half empty or half full?

written by Nathan Farrugia CEO of Level up & TED Speaker

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Financial Technology by Dr. Abdala Kablan

23 PRESIDENT AND CHARITY

THE IFR VILLAGE

PROGRESS

GROUP RESULTS & KNOCKOUT ROUND

OPENING CEREMONY AND LIVE DRAW

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE THREE SECTORS

32 Interview with Mr. John Arne Riise

Interview with Mr. Eman Pulis

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39

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41 Interviews with participants

Interviews with the IFR TEAM

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61

Meet the Designer..

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IFR?

WHAT IS

IFR stands for iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate. These three leading industries are the three fastest growing industries in Malta. The goal of organising the IFR Champions Cup was that of merging and combining what is easily considered to be the world’s number one sport with the fastest growing industries locally. The IFR Champions Cup is based on our 5 ‘F’ principles.

FINTECH We are the future! We truly consider all three sectors as growth multipliers for the local economy. We also consider Fintech to be an area which will definitely affect the whole population, either directly or indirectly in the near future. Hence, our primary goal was to facilitate discussion and business development between the three sectors in the area of financial technology through our expert speakers at the opening ceremony which was held on the 28th of September, and which was followed by a networking reception.

FOUNDATION - CHARITY What is an event which is forgotten the moment it ends? Gandhi once said:

“Generosity consists of not the sum given, but the manner in which it is bestowed.” Apart from our strong desire to be pioneers in bringing local giants together, we were thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate than most of us. All in all, we were able to donate a total amount of €9,000 which was shared equally between the Puttinu Cares and ALS Malta Foundations.

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FOOTBALL Football is considered by many to be the most popular sport in Europe. We value the sport and its power of bringing people together. Our aim is to host a yearly football event which will connect the ambassadors of the three fastest growing sectors in Malta and we can happily say that the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup succeeded in doing so.

FRIENDSHIP Another aim of ours was to organise the most exciting corporate event in Malta. This is an industry team building event which not only encouaged healthy competition but also brought the industries closer, resulting in long-lasting personal and business relationships.

FAIR PLAY We would also like to highlight the importance of a foremost value of any sport – Fair Play. Fair play is a concept that promotes our fundamental values that are equally important in sport as they are in our daily lives. We are firm believers in sportsmanship and glad to have witnessed this first hand at the tournament, bar the odd exception. We even felt and realised the importance of awarding a ‘Fair Play’ trophy to the team that deserved it most.

www.ifrchampionscup.com 8


BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE THREE SECTORS

iGAMING W

ithout doubt, Malta has not only established itself as the iGaming capital of Europe, but also as the iGaming capital of the world. We can proudly say that most of the iGaming sector’s major companies have operations on the island. As things stand today, the industry accounts for 11% of the island’s GDP and employs more than 6,600 people directly, with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 providing ancillary services such as web hosting, security auditing or legal work. https://issuu.com/countryprofilermaltaltd/docs/gaming-2019

FINTECH Malta is also ideally positioned to provide shelter for the next wave of Fintech pioneers as it current-

ly hosts rapidly growing financial services and IT industries. The island’s growth as a hub for remote iGaming companies has also empowered local employees with the right skills set to gauge the Fintech industry. That being said, an additional influx of expatriate employees in the Fintech industry has and will undoubtedly continue to create new demand for accommodation, resulting in the further growth of the local Real Estate industry. Are Fintech and Malta a match made in heaven? - Under the microscope 2017, pages 26-27.

REAL ESTATE T

he Maltese Real Estate market has become a powerhouse over the past couple of years. There has been an ever-increasing demand for local properties by both locals and foreigners alike, particularly investors, developers and iGaming executives. This had led to substantial improvement of the letting, development and sales markets over the last couple of years. As Malta continues to expand its business portfolio and with big names, particularly in the Fintech and iGaming sector here already with hopefully more arriving, it is relatively safe to assume that the industry’s positive trend is not expected to slow down any time soon. https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20180204/business-news/The-property-market-in-Malta.669723 10


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OPENING CEREMONY One of the aims of our event was to bring people together and foster business development. We were honoured to have the following individuals present who gave speeches on their respective sectors at the Opening Ceremony of the IFR Champions Cup. In no particular order of preference, there was Mr. Russell Mifsud, Associate Director in iGaming at KPMG Malta, Dr. Abdalla Kablan, CEO of the Delta Summit, Mr. Steve Mercieca, CEO & Founder of QuickLets & Zanzi Homes, Mr. Johan Zammit, CEO of the Malta Innovation Summit and Mr. Nathan Farrugia, CEO of Ultimate Performance - Level UP! & TED Speaker. The evening was compered by the well-renowned X-Factor host Mr. Ben Camille and also featured local celebrities Ms. Tamara Webb and Ms. Christabelle Borg. Apart from the speeches, which truth be said, also included quite a motivational one on how to lead healthy and positive lives, we came up with the idea of having a Live Draw very similar to the one we are accustomed to seeing on TV featuring the Champion’s League draw. Guests were able to see in real time which team they would be grouped up with, and this helped create a sense of excitement and anticipation for the next two days of football. The Opening Ceremony was followed by an open bar and finger food reception where all our guests were able to interact and network with one another whilst being provided with entertainment from the very talented magician, Mr. Brian Role.

OFFICIAL LIVE DRAW Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F

Group G

Group H

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Finding Malta’s Sweet Spot between iGaming, Fintech, and Real Estate iGaming Russell Mifsud

Associate Director, Gaming KPMG in Malta Russell is dedicated to all aspects of the Gaming industry as a whole. He strives to remain on top of all externalities on a Global scale, in order to best advise KPMG and its clients on opportunities within the industry alongside best guidance techniques. Within the gaming space, new trends, licensing, strategic opportunities, compliance, M&As, competing jurisdictions, disruptive technologies, crypto currencies and gamification are some of the aspects that Russell focuses on, whilst keeping a macroeconomic perspective in hand. Russell is currently working on numerous techniques to help raise the bar and champion Malta as the jurisdiction of choice, including holding regular meetings with the Regulator at the Malta Gaming Authority and other industry stakeholders and speaking at high profile conferences and other international events. Bringing conferences of calibre to the island, round tables and aligning the efforts of the KPMG Global Gaming network, are amongst some of the activities that Russell undertakes, in order to keep stakeholders up-to-date on emerging markets, opportunities and industry hot topics.

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Given the iGaming industry’s generous 12% contribution to Malta’s GDP, it has become imperative that all stakeholders within the industry place great emphasis on further cementing Malta’s position as the iGaming capital of the world. So what’s the result of this 360 degree effort in the iGaming industry? A truly innovative iGaming ecosystem unlike any other seen throughout the globe. With the introduction of the country’s new Gaming Act, Malta’s parliament and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) have made some key inroads into realising Malta’s global gaming ambitions. The presence of some 350 plus iGaming operators has proven to be a compelling draw for industry stakeholders such as platform providers, game developers, and start-ups, who have come across to Maltese shores to form part of the thriving iGaming ecosystem. The MGA licensing application process has been streamlined to great effect through the updated legislation and should prove more attractive to overseas gaming companies wishing to begin operating in Malta. Aside from initiatives directly related to iGaming, a strong physical infrastructure has been established and developed, further supporting the needs of those involved. Malta’s credibility as a jurisdiction plays a large part in maintaining its attractiveness. Our credibility as a jurisdiction has been built up through years of focus, dedication, and hard work. As a result, we are seeing a vast array of interest from operators in LATAM, Africa, Asia and more recently, the US. It is true that the degree of reach and ability to passport the MGA license has somewhat decreased due to other EEA countries rolling out their own legislation. However, it is Malta’s unrivalled ecosystem that remains its crucial selling point long after its original presence as an access point has been hamstrung. Amidst the uncertainly of Brexit, many UK-based operators have cast their eye on Malta as the potential answer to mitigate the operational risks posed by a future with more limited access to EEA countries and customers. The need for substance from a tax standpoint has actually contributed to our success and stickiness. Market consolidation has continued to flourish over the course of the year and should continue as such throughout 2019. Consolidation within the Industry is typically a result of operators’ margins being squeezed. Bottom lines have been hit due to the costs of compliance resulting from strengthened regulatory implementations by both Malta and the EU. The GDPR, the 4th AML Directive and the MGA’s Responsible Gaming measures are just some of the pain-points which have resulted in increased costs for operators in Malta.


‘‘The presence of some 350 plus iGaming operators has proven to be a compelling draw for industry stakeholders such as platform providers, game developers, and start-ups..’’ When you plug the newly re-opened US sports gaming market into the picture, many of Malta’s operators are now under the spotlight of US-based companies from a mergers and acquisitions perspective. A number of US operators will be looking to strengthen their offering following approximately ten years in the shadows. Malta has taken a sensible approach in the challenging balancing act of promoting innovation, whilst also managing its risks, which has spilled over onto the desks of operators’ legal councils. That said, new avenues are perpetually opening for gaming companies in Malta. Betting and payment innovations, Daily Fantasy Sports, immersive play, alternative lotteries and the meteoric rise of eSports are just some of the mouth-watering prospects in the hands of operators. As ever, Malta is doing its absolute best to allow these new areas to flourish, whilst also keeping a keen eye on the risks involved. The eSports industry has grabbed the interest of many in the gaming ecosystem, and this has been spearheaded by a couple of primarily events-focused eSports companies, particularly gamers.com.mt and Quickfire, backed by Eden Leisure Group. The government is providing funding to those in the video games arm of the gaming industry, and this is beginning to spill over into the conversations of those involved. Furthermore, Rockstar’s hinted investment into incorporating a real money Casino into their new Grand Theft Auto title further fuels one’s imagination as to what is to come into play in the near further. These are the types of visionary moves I have hinted are on the horizon. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT, or its subsets of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies as many understand it) is becoming a key focus for the Maltese government, as well as many companies in the country. From a gaming perspective, the MGA’s Sandbox Environment for Distributed Ledger Technology and Virtual Currencies is truly a cutting edge approach, given the uncertainty of most countries towards these new technologies. Effectively, the MGA are allowing those interested a one year window in which to perform a controlled test of the possibilities in real-time with real customers.

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Fintech The Fintech revolution has already transformed banking and financial services with introductions like internet banking and the availability of online investment platforms. Malta has firmly placed itself among the early adopters of this new technology by embracing its role as a nation supporting the future. The possibilities for change through these new, very capable technologies, is endless. Those at the forefront of the Fintech industry continuously work on transforming how financial services are being delivered and consumers will undoubtedly be the biggest beneficiaries from a number of angles, particularly user experience, convenience, access and cost savings. The banking industry was originally very good at integrating new technologies to provide a better service to customers. But the financial crash in 2007 gave rise to a shift of focus on compliance. Innovation to somewhat of a back seat as a result of heightened focus on regulatory matters gave room to savvy tech companies to begin to capitalise on the most profitable areas and the front end which has led to financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, 700 million people went from being unbanked to banked. We have seen Malta embrace the Fintech Sphere in recent years. The likes of Silicon Valletta, Gaming Malta, Identity Malta, Malta Enterprise, and MITA are all helping to shape our ecosystem to support this relatively new wave of innovation and technology. Events such as the DELTA Summit, Malta Blockchain Summit, Malta Innovation Summit and a wealth of other related conferences, are firmly putting Malta on the Fintech map. In truth, there are a lot of summits taking place! I suspect the days of having to explain Malta’s whereabouts to unenlightened foreigners are now over – Malta is well and truly on the map.

‘‘The likes of Silicon Valletta, Gaming Malta, Identity Malta, Malta Enterprise, and MITA are all helping to shape our ecosystem to support this relatively new wave of innovation and technology.’’ When we look at the rapid growth of Revolut’s banking solution within Malta,we begin to see the huge potential for disruptive change in this sphere. It will likely jolt our local banks into reconsidering their stance and possibly adjusting their viewpoint to be more in line with the revolutionary and innovative players:good news for the island across a diverse range of verticals.

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On the DLT front we are seeing a tremendous amount of effort go into the legislation from all stakeholders. Huge players in the space are flocking to our shores and once again I am encouraged by Malta’s support, anticipation and drive to get it right above all else.


Of course it would not be complete to merely highlight the good points without mentioning some of the potential risks. I believe HR will become a greater concern due to the limited amount of qualified and technical people on the island. Due to it being a vastly unregulated industry (outside Malta), this new industry with very high margins, coupled with an ability to raise impressive sums of investment through ICOs, will likely impact Malta’s other verticals, including that of the iGaming Sphere. Employee engagement indexes, salary benchmarking, and industry collaboration across the board are going to be ever more important if we are to safeguard against the potential leakage within our impressive ecosystem. We need to anticipate and mitigate the impact this new beast will have on salaries, poaching practices, the demand for talent, cost of living, and rental prices by plugging this into our strategy by design from the very beginning.

Real Estate Moving back towards a mainstay in industry throughout the world, we look at real estate. Traditional, but by no means lacking innovation, real estate has boomed in recent years in Malta, to the point where the island is among the mostly densely populated in the world. Take a walk down along the seafront in Sliema and try not to be blown away by the sheer mass of buildings and construction work all around you. Tucked nicely into this growing concrete jungle are a huge number of real estate agencies. Having said that, demand must meet supply, and there certainly is the demand for it thus far. A recent study showcased Malta’s property market to have increased by 16.9% from 2017 Q2 to 2018 Q2. This is a staggering, but fully believable figure. It is higher than growth seen in Hong Kong and places Malta at the very top of the list worldwide. In spite of the challenges we are seeing for first time buyers, I believe we will continue to see growth over the coming years but it will be essential that we get our infrastructure right. Be it transport, new localities or our quality of life, we really need to think long-term.

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‘‘A recent study showcased Malta’s property market to have increased by 16.9% from 2017 Q2 to 2018 Q2.’’ We can boom economically, but this is not necessarily sustainable long-term as has been seen in every economy throughout the world, not least during the crisis of 2007. However, a key point is that if our quality of life diminishes due to the creep of construction and the reduced green spaces and quiet places, this will undoubtedly have a very serious knock on effect. Quality of life has long been one of Malta’s major assets. It is why the young leave their countries to work, why families relocate their children to learn and develop, and why so many expats choose Malta as their retirement destination. Having said all of this, these are questions that ring true to any country that is growing at the phenomenal rate we are, especially one of our size. It is part of the game and it is our job as industry stakeholders to steer Malta in the right direction. Hold on tight, we are just getting started. Idea - The Sweet Spot between all three industries As with all industries, there are very visible linkages between iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate in Malta. The growth of iGaming brought with it a mass of technical people from overseas. Many had come from very built-up cities across Europe particularly. It is fair to say that Malta was not quite ready from an infrastructure standpoint, and is still playing catch-up. Bank accounts still take a long time to set up when compared with other EU countries. Those who came to Malta for positions with iGaming companies quite clearly noticed the possibilities to improve and streamline financial procedures in Malta, leading to the opening of a new industry within our ecosystem, Fintech. Revolut is one such company which has set its sights on the banking sector. This new industry has brought with it a new influx of foreign workers to fill in the gaps. Following the influx of workers from both the iGaming and Fintech industries in recent years, Malta matched the demand for housing by facilitating construction in the island’s prime locations particularly, leading to a construction boom and to the very densely populated areas we see from Valletta through to St. Julian’s on the coast of Malta. If Malta is to maintain its high quality of living, the balancing of its key industries will be crucial. Higher wages in iGaming and Fintech have driven construction to a great extent in recent years, and equally, construction has helped to drive better jobs and improved salaries for those in the Real Estate industry. However, as seen in countries like Ireland in the past, this tumbling effect has a sell-by date and Malta needs to continue to foresee this from a governmental level and begin to implement protective measures to ensure Malta’s long-term viability.

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Steve Mercieca

Co-Founder and CEO of QuickLets and Zanzi Homes

QuickLets was launched five years ago from the comfort of Steve’s living room. With a different approach, jaw dropping website and amazing ideas, QuickLets quickly took the market by storm. Three years later, after a chance sale, Steve opened the gates for QuickLets’s sister company, Zanzi Homes, which focuses solely on the sale of real estate. Today, both brands operate from twenty-three offices with an awesome team of just three hundred individuals.

QuickLets has taken the property market by storm and now has the largest letting database in Malta and that in just five years. With QuickLets’s success, Zanzi Homes’s too, which is just over two years old, is heading in the same direction. What would you say this success is based on? The success comes from our team. We have an awesome company culture which is diverse and encourages people to work with us as well as sharing the ‘pie’. We offer our specialists, managers, franchise owners and virtual agents (people that refer properties and clients) a portion of the sales, so everyone works together to make it happen.

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This way we are all helping each other to close deals. Everyone has invested interest so they are all motivated, this empowers all our members to be able to grow, not just with the company but in their own personal lives. We also have a super tech system and are purpose driven. We have our own foundation which is extremely close to our hearts.


We are aware that QLZH uses a tech-based approach and deals with countless clients from the iGaming sector. Can you talk about how the iGaming and Fintech sectors have affected QLZH and the real estate sector in general? Well these industries have brought an influx of foreigners in to the country in general. Some are here on short contracts while others are here for the long run. All these people need a place to live whether renting or buying. Our approach towards tech and likeness to these individuals made us more approachable than traditional firms. Once they have sampled the service most clients are happy to recommend us to their friends and colleagues.

At ‘For A Cause Events’, one of our core values is about giving back to the community. You have just recently launched the QuickLets and Zanzi Homes Foundation which supports education and housing in South Africa. How important is it to give back to the local community through one’s work, and how can it encourage other companies and individuals to do the same? We feel very strongly about this and our culture encourages and provides opportunities to get involved at any level. We not only want to improve the environment around us that we live in but also lend a helping hand to those in need. Whilst we advertise many of our purposeful and sustainable projects we do much much more behind the scenes. We feel promoting some of it encourages others to do the same. This has a ripple effect and more and more people are contributing to helping the planet and Her residents.

We very much appreciated your intervention on what was certainly an eventful night at the Opening Ceremony of the IFR Champions Cup. What is your opinion on such an event and concept? Will we be seeing you at next year’s edition, in some way or measure? I believe that Malta needs more of these events. The IFR event was very well organised and I can see it blow up and become huge over the coming years. It promotes everything healthy and modern. I am proud and honored to be able to contribute to such a well organised and well attended event. Looking forward to next years’ edition. 20


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FINANCIAL byTECHNOLOGY DR.

AFintech, B AI,D& DataAScience L Expert L A K A B L A N A serial entrepreneur, and award-winning Fintech expert. He specializes in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the design of complex financial systems. Throughout his career he founded several start-ups and companies specializing in deep learning, professional match making, and Fintech. Dr. Kablan is also an academic at the University of Malta where he lectures, and researches topics related to computational intelligence, financial engineering, and financial data science. He has researched the cryptographic block algorithms behind bitcoin (now known as blockchain) and is a renowned expert in the field of distributed ledgers. Furthermore, Dr. Kablan advises governments on matters related to strategic development and utilisation of technology, Fintech, and Blockchain/DLT technologies.

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hen we speak about Fintech or Financial Technology, the key word here is actually technology. In many other sectors whether it’s health, education, gaming or finance, technology is disrupting markets quite heavily; we have Edutech, Healthtech, Gametech etc. Fintech though is quite particular. When it comes to finance, for the past two thousand years, finance has always been disrupted from within. Since the very first ever financial transaction recorded in history in olden day Sumeria which is modern day Iraq, a grain contract was recorded and since then, innovation within the financial sector has happened from within.

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Until quite recently, when in 2008 the financial crisis hit and caused what was probably the worst financial crisis in history, whilst financial firms were busy dealing with their own issues and forgot about innovation, the internet came to prominence where tech giants grew even bigger. We now live in a time where Facebook has just been licensed to transfer money using Facebook messenger and where Amazon is now licensed to provide student loans. The big tech giants started moving and taking the ‘’lunch money’ of financial companies because they are empowered by their cutting edge technologies.


If one takes banking into consideration, banking is based on three main pillars; deposits, transfers and loans. Nowadays, individuals can go and deposit money on their Revolut, Paypal or Transfer-wise account or even to a peer to peer lending platform to get a loan. People will always need the process of banking but not necessarily the bank itself. All of these Fintech startups are moving into the market of financial institutions that have traditionally serviced people in a specific way and are now using technology and innovation to provide a bigger, better and more agile service. The consumer type is also changing. People are not getting any younger, so even though all these millennials are getting older, they are still used to a particular type of service. They are used to looking at their mobile phones and getting instant gratification through all these newly built applications. I was reading some very interesting statistics recently. One statistic said that more than 74% of millennials are much more excited about a financial product being launched by Apple or Google compared to being launched by their own bank. A more comical statistic says that more than 75% of millennials would rather go to the dentist instead

than speak to a human financial advisor. That says a lot about this current state of the new consumer and the older industry. Disruption is happening at a fast pace. If you think about it, throughout history, for any economy or civilization to have thrived, it needed two things; a system of trade and a store of value. A system of trade could be exchanging or bartering ‘payment’. A store of value could be assets, commodities, gold, silver, money or even crypto currency. Without going into the philosophical argument of fiat currency vs crypto currency, the World’s most adopted fiat currency, the American dollar, is based on nothing but a promise from a government that is currently mired by 20 trillion dollars in debt. One should definitely re-think trusting that Green piece of paper. That introduces other avenues of how we can have these stored as value. We are still at the initial stages of these new disruptive technologies which is why it’s quite exiting to be here in Malta. Malta is officially the first country in the World to regulate technology arrangements and services starting from the DLT; Distributed Leger Technology out of which Blockchain is an architecture with a vision to eventually move into artificial intelligence and machine learning.

‘‘We are still at the initial stages of these new disruptive technologies which is why it’s quite exiting to be here in Malta.’’ A reason why this is a pivotal moment in history is because we are at a stage where innovation has forced us to come up with regulation. Malta was one of the first countries to move into this space and regulate it and that’s how the idea of the Delta Summit was born. It was to celebrate the fact that Malta is the pioneering country or trail blazer in this particular sector and therefore allowed us to bring the World’s top leaders, innovators, pioneers and thinkers to Malta and share their ideas, visions, insights and strategic foresights about how this industry is going to evolve in the future. It brought the World’s biggest companies and corporations that are acting in this space, some of which have decided to move to Malta because of this new regulatory and legal certainty that Malta has provided. What Malta has done is quite unique, even though it has regulated this space, and trust me, as a technologist, I do not fancy the word regulation but it is necessary in this space, especially since we found the perfect balance here and have not stifled innovation. The regulation that Malta has come up with is technically a regulation of engineers by engineers because it takes into account its core values; customer protection, investor protection but also technical definitions that are quite important too. On behalf of the Delta Summit I am extremely grateful to have collaborated with a startup organisation; The IFR Champions Cup by ‘For A Cause Events Ltd’. The founders have been able to create such a unique concept of bringing together Malta’s three leading sectors in a way that has fostered business development, whilst at the same time promoting fun through the game of football and most importantly by giving back to the local community through their chosen charity foundations. We very much look forward to next year’s Delta Summit and of course the IFR Champions Cup 2019.

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JOHAN ZAMMIT Johan is the Founder & CEO at Smart Studios and Co-founder at NetRefer, a global leader in performance marketing software. He has a passion for innovation and sharing of ideas coupled with a proven track record in software development and the digital sector. Through various roles spanning over 20+ years as an entrepreneur, CTO, Director, Mentor, Consultant, Lecturer and Developer, Johan spends his time seeking market gaps, envisioning software products and services that bridge these gaps and bringing them to life. He is currently researching the intersection of blockchain, AI and IOT and how these can provide a competitive advantage and make the world a better place. His latest project is the Malta Innovation Summit.

What is the Malta Innovation Summit and what was the vision which today has created such a well-renowned yearly calendar event? The Malta Innovation Summit is a platform for thinkers and doers, who are constantly seeking to discover unconventional ways of overcoming challenges around them. The Summit tackles innovation at all levels - be it business, startup, local, international and personal - and across all industries. The first edition was organised on the 13th Oct 2017 with

the vision of bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, startup founders and researchers. To bring them, from around the world, under one roof here in Malta to learn, network and share their real-life stories of innovation. This year kept this same vision, the same ethos, and practically kept the same main date 12th October. However we’ve

doubled up our efforts and expanded to include more events, more dates, more diverse content, more networking opportunities, more international expert speakers, while moving to a bigger venue that catered for the growing number of attendees and more exhibitors. We plan to expand further on this trend in the years to come.

Can you share with us your experience on how you were able to gather such top executives, professionals, educators, CEOs, and innovators to form what is today known as the Malta Innovation Summit? Was this a arduous task? Organising events is never easy but you feel the accomplishment when the event is over. To organise MIS we go on a “roadshow� to meet in person all the innovation stakeholders in Malta, one by one, and we also go on hundreds 25

of video calls with many speakers, researchers and CEOs of innovative companies from all around the world. This is very time consuming but it is the only way to really discover top quality content, speakers and exhibitors for

the Summit. Apart from that juggling the venue, food, AV, design agency, marketing, agenda, website, sponsors, tickets and many other aspects is an arduous task but we have a passion for what we do and so no task is too big for us.


What was your experience as a guest speaker at the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup and what is your take on such a concept? The concept is great. Three great industries. Bringing people together through sports for a great charitable cause. The first edition was an amazing success, both in its launch event and also in the football tournament itself and the related events. It was a great honour for me - both to link the Malta Innovation Summit to the IFR Champions Cup but also to be able to speak at the launch event and to be able to share my personal experience that links the three industries together. I am now really looking forward to the second edition. Following this year’s big start, the IFR Champions Cup has a great future ahead.

What are your expectations for the next edition of the Malta Innovation Summit? Are we in for more surprises? Plans are already underway for a bigger and better MIS2019. We plan to continue the trend of the first two editions - and expand the third edition on all fronts. As we did in the second edition, MIS2019 will be spread over more and more days with ancillary events - not just a one day conference. We will also be having more international exhibitors exhib-

iting their innovative products and services. And we already secured a set of international keynote speakers on innovation. All this is possible with the help of fresh sponsors who will be joining in for the 2019 edition. As for “surprises”, there is a big surprise in the pipeline. But let’s keep that a surprise for now. We will announce it in early 2019.

‘‘Organising events is never easy but you feel the accomplishment when the event is over.’’ Finally, in your opinion, do you think that these three industries (iGaming, Fintech, and Real Estate) will create innovative breakthroughs for Malta and globally in the next couple of years? iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate are already big contributors to both the Maltese and the global economy. They are very profitable and very fast moving industries both for those who directly work in these industries and for those who service them. This combination of investment plus fast-paced changes are very fertile ground for innovative breakthroughs. So yes, without any doubt these three industries will create innovative breakthroughs in the coming years. Innovative breakthroughs are great but only for those organisations that are ready for them. And this is where the Malta Innovation Summit comes in - to prepare more and more people to be either the ones

coming up with innovative breakthroughs or else being able to handle breakthroughs created. Because businesses do not operate in a vacuum. New competitors, new laws, new technologies emerge all the time. Every person in every organisation - no exceptions - is responsible for finding unconventional solutions to the challenges in front of him/her and to implement them. Everyone needs to learn the tools and the skills to be an intrapreneur. And that is why the Malta Innovation Summit exists - to get more and more people to learn how to think and act innovatively. To get the thinker and the doer out of each one of us.

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THE IFR VILLAGE Whilst the IFR Champions Cup games were ongoing at the Marsa Sports Grounds, we decided to set up a 40m by 15m tent where various companies were afforded space to put up their stands where they promoted their products and services, whilst visitors and participating teams enjoyed the chill-out vibe in the lounge area.

COMPANY STANDS Trustly Pay N Play Videoslots QuickLets & Zanzi Homes - Attard Branch

Urban Jungle - House of Sport Genesis Global Limited Eden Leisure Group including 89.7 Bay

Kind’s Auto Sales Mando’s Barber Shop 27


FOOD & BEVERAGE STATIONS IFR Food & Drinks Bar Dr. Juice Salumeria Happy Hippo Bar Greek Souvlaki Car Coffee Circus Banh Mi Malta (Vietnamese Food Truck)

With music from 89.7 Bay and Red Bull’s ‘London Cab’ DJ booth together with haircuts and beard trims given by the incomparable Mando, a Fifa Game Stand, Virtual Reality Games and more, the IFR Village was a fantastic place seething with activity, yet, at the same time offered players and guests a place where they could enjoy themselves and relax in between games or whilst games were ongoing.

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PRESIDENT AND CHARITY We were extremely honoured to have Her Excellency, the President of Malta, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca at the IFR Village. Her Excellency never says ‘No’, especially where a good cause event is being held. She started off by shaking hands with everyone present at the time, players and staff alike, then toured the IFR Village and tournament grounds. Her Excellency congratulated the IFR management team on creating such

a wonderful concept and was quite elated to learn this included the donation of funds to two collaborating foundations, Puttinu Cares and ALS Malta. She then got the ball rolling with a rather professional kick-off. Thanks once again, Your Excellency.

ALS & PUTTINU CARES FOUNDATIONS ALS Malta was founded by Mr. Bjorn Formosa in 2015. This charity foundation raises awareness and offers support to ALS and MND sufferers on the island of Malta whilst the Puttinu Cares Foudnation was set up in 2002 and began from an idea and a desire to offer a holistic approach of care for families with children suffering from cancer. Dr. Victor Calvagna and Mr. Rennie Zerafa were the founders of this group. It was a great honour to be able to offer our own support to both of these organisations and hope many others would do the same.

ALS DONATION LINES

PUTTINU CARES DONATION LINES

FIXED LINES: 5100 2017 - € 20 5190 2075 - € 50 5170 2016 - € 15 5180 2018 - € 25

FIXED LINES: 5160 2007 - € 10 5170 2006 - € 15 5180 2008 - € 25

SMS DONATION: 5061 8170 - € 4.66 5061 8936 - € 6.99 5061 9271 - € 11.65

SMS DONATION: 5061 8939 - € 6.99

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PROGRESS

Glass half empty or half full? written by Nathan Farrugia

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CEO of Ultimate Performance Level up & TED Speaker

rogress is a topical word that instills mixed emotions in people today. Malta is in the midst of significant change, both economically, politically and socially. Our economic drivers, the Real Estate, iGaming and Fintech markets are driving rapid change to the country’s economy, as well as having a social and existential impact on the people living here. Progress has allowed humanity to significantly improve survival, life span and population growth by harnessing knowledge transferred across generations through language, unlike any other species living on our planet. We developed medicine to practically eradicate a number of pandemics and diseases, we have harnessed nuclear power and agreed rules through which the capacity to weaponize it is significantly reduced since it’s discovery. We can tap into solar and wind power to create energy, reforest areas our predecessors destroyed, and develop technologies to allow people with disabilities to live as normally as possible. The number of people that died through famine and war has been drastically reduced over the past 100 years, and literacy and numeracy are rapidly spreading across every continent. The future global internet powered by WIFI balloons and drones will give access to knowledge and information to every single person on the planet. Progress can be a wonderful thing. Yet it also has its dark side. We question what 6 billion people will do with the knowledge acquired through a global internet, and how will they shift through the propaganda and fake news spewed out by politicians and corporations to boost their own agendas. The other side of this double-edged sword is the way progress takes opportunity to excess. This drives greed, unfair competition, corruption and selfishness. Human beings are driven by personal gain before collective wellbeing, as described by Maslow and other sociologists. Whilst these ‘drivers’ are changing with the spread of social networks, the individualistic ‘like-seeking’ behaviours we see in young adults is exacerbating the “I before WE” symptoms we associate with progress. We see these signs in over-development, destruction of nature, killing of other creatures for sport, dog-eat-dog commercialization, and the simple lack of cordiality between human encounters. We don’t even say “good morning” to each other anymore. I am no anthropologist, but I do think that we need to pause and reflect on the balance in the good and bad of progress, and make sure it doesn’t tip too far. I have no problem with high rise buildings, as long as there are green spaces of equal value for families to enjoy. I do expect my employees to give their time and energy to the business, but I need to help them work smart and efficiently, so they still have plenty of spend time with their loved ones, learning, or practicing their hobbies. The problem with progress is that, compared to 100 years ago, it is now being perceived as a dirty word. It can create a guilt feeling in those that are ‘progressing’ in a sort of ‘impostor syndrome’ that drives the need to clean our conscience with good deeds. This is a pity. Altruism is a choice, not an outcome. I have no issue with a company making money and giving some of it to charity, if it was earned ethically and legitimately. I am not cynical about CSR activities, unless there is clear evidence that its a means to justify a greedy endpoint. I do object to people and organisations deflecting wrong-doing by using PR strategies to portray their contrived good points, but I applaud the initiatives good people take, often in their own time, to bring people together to help a wide range of causes. 33


‘‘We need to think about our intentions, rather than worry too much about the outcomes we don’t necessarily have control of.’’

The way we make our point is by using facts. The problem with facts is the interpretation, which is often filtered through our personal view of the world. The fact that the 200ml glass contains 100ml of water does little to convince whether it is half full or half empty.

We need to take a personal interest in changing our perspectives, rather than rely on exter- nal views, facts, news or social media to drive our behaviours. We need to think about our intentions, rather than worry too much about the outcomes we don’t necessarily have control of. We need to seek common good before personal gain, especially if that gain is over and above what we really need to live decently. We need to balance our lives across more than the linear ‘Life vs Work’ paradigm, and continuously feel guilty we are not doing justice to either, as hard as we try. We need to revisit the concept of working hard, and consider why technology, more advanced than ever before, is actually making work-life balance worse! Perhaps it’s because we are replacing humanity with other priorities. Skipping the ‘good morning’ to get to work faster, (god forbid it leads to a conversation...). Avoiding small talk with those around you for fear it leads to an upsetting conversation or someone takes offense. Giving money instead of my time to those in need, perhaps to avoid the awkwardness or guilt that you are ‘progressing’ while others are stuck. Keeping quiet face to face, and then posting your thoughts on social media so you don’t have to defend your opinion in real life.

It may seem that I’m looking at the glass half empty, but that is actually a good thing. It means that there is so much potential we can achieve by changing our approach to progress. We don’t need to curb it by dumbing down science, stop buying and selling, stop trying to reach big goals or achieve great things through technology or exploration. We just need to make progress helpful by focusing our energy, innovation, knowledge, information, money and effort on WISDOM. This means a shift to longer term sustainable goals for all development, medicine, technology and economy. Longer term focus gives us the courage to say no to quick wins and individual gain, choosing collective benefit and future wellbeing. If we agree that we have become an individualistic society, then the starting point has to come from individual change. Changing the way we make our choices, making wiser ones on a day to day basis, that will create the opportunity for future generations and no longer consider progress anything less than a full glass.

About the author: Nathan is Founder and CEO of Ultimate Performance and leads Team UP, rather organically, creating a multi-disciplinary approach to levelling up individuals and businesses through a wide range of amazing experiences. Nathan graduated as a physiotherapist from the University of Malta and read an MBA from Strathclyde Graduate School of Business. He is a record-breaking endurance athlete, father, husband and philanthropist, and sits on several non-profit boards and for-profit businesses. Nathan is also the president of Malta’s largest non-profit organisation the Inspire Foundation, as well as the chair of the Voluntary Organisations Council, appointed by government to bring together and strengthen civil society through the energetic council.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE MAN BEHIND

SiGMA

Eman has started up the Summit of iGaming Malta (SiGMA) in 2014, and the show has quickly grown into one of Europe’s biggest and most exciting iGaming events. While SiGMA has firmly established itself as an annual must-attend event, Eman has taken

on the challenge of organising the Malta Blockchain Summit. Its first edition in November 2018 managed to attract 8,500 people on the back of Malta’s move to develop the world’s first holistic regulatory framework for Distributed Ledger Technologies.

Can you briefly define what SIGMA is and how it has affected the iGaming Sector in Malta over the years? The iGaming sphere has dominated the Maltese landscape and the industry has never been in better health. SiGMA provides a high-quality event, at the core of a competitive industry, where delegates in the iGaming sphere can network, debate industry trends, and make lasting connections. As our soldout expo floor proves - there is a definite demand for events like this.

The first edition of the Malta Blockchain Summit was a huge success. As the CEO of such an exciting expo, how do you feel that Summits such as this one and the Delta Summit, for instance, have improved Malta’s position in becoming the home for Fintech businesses? The Malta Blockchain Summit exceeded our expectations, attracting 8,500 visitors through its doors. From a packed expo floor to well-attended conferences and a line-up of globally-renowned speakers, the event provided the ideal environment for debate and innovation to flourish. The Summit was also the launch-pad for Malta’s revolutionary legislative framework, with three acts that embrace progressive technologies coming into effect on the first day. It is this display of welcome and support that has helped Malta cement its position as a Blockchain Island.

Sophia, the social humanoid robot attended the Summit too. What are your opinions on the future of AI and its integration with humanity in a balancing manner? AI brings infinite potential for positive development, with the ability to transform a plethora of industries. The Maltese government, in partnership with SingularityNet launched a task force during the Summit which strives to place Malta amongst the top AI nations in the world. The pilot project will explore a citizenship test for robots and I can’t wait to see what the outcome is. Sophia and McAfee at the Malta Blockchain Summit

As you have mentioned in previous interviews, your success is built on the success of iGaming and Blockchain. How do you link these two together? We introduced our first blockchain-themed conference back in 2017, which highlighted the enormous potential DLT that it has when applied to the iGaming sphere. As Malta continues to solidify its position as a hub for blockchain and iGaming, SiGMA has sought to amplify that convergence. This year SiGMA will also hold another blockchain conference, with topics such as European Blockchain and Gaming Regulations dominating.

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EMAN PULIS 36


‘‘AI brings infinite potential for positive development, with the ability to transform a plethora of industries.’’ IFR, as you know, stands for iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate – in your opinion, how do these growing industries affect one another? A cohesive body of legislation has allowed Fintech to flourish in Malta. The lines between Fintech and traditional players are blurring, with the disruptive tech creating the perfect playing field for innovation to develop and nudging these industries into improving their service.

Last but not least, in your view, how do you see Malta develop in the Fintech space five (5) years now? What can we expect and how can we prepare for any changes? Malta’s proximity to nearby markets, especially those currently seeking interesting developments in new financial technologies, in Africa for example, offers huge potential to entrepreneurs looking to locate themselves in one of Europe’s fastest-growing centres of finance and technology. Malta will likely continue to position itself as a hub for fintech companies, whilst further developing supportive legislation which will strengthen the ecosystem and curate the right conditions to enable startups and innovators to grow their business from Malta.

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INTERVIEW WITH BETSSON GROUP’S AMBASSADOR JOHN ARNE RIISE What was your experience at the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup? I truly enjoyed my time at the IFR Champions Cup. It was a great concept involving great people and lots of fun. I can’t wait for the next one.

What is your role as an ambassador of Betsson Group? I am the face of Betsson Group when it comes to commercial and marketing activities. I meet up with VIP customers and travel with them to watch games in the Premier League. I am basically the person who connects with the customers both on a personal level and in the media.

What is your opinion of Malta and do you see yourself potentially retiring here? I have retired although a couple of clubs have already asked me to play for them. I like the level but i see myself more as a manager for a team in Malta. I’m ready for the challenge.

Have you seen any local football matches? How can we keep improving the level of local football? Yes, I have seen a few games. I like the level but there is still a lot of room for improvement. This is also one of the reasons why I want to be a manager here in Malta. I believe I can use my experience and professional approach to help further develop the level of Maltese football.

Will we be seeing you at next year’s edition of the IFR Champions Cup? 100%, I will be there for sure.

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With 110 caps, John Arne Riise is the mostcapped player for the Norwegian national team and scored 17 goals before his retirement from international duty in 2013. He spent seven years playing for Premier League side Liverpool, in which together with he won honours including the 2005 UEFA Champions League.


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Aleksandar RIBIC #10 MVP OF THE IFR CHAMPIONS CUP (CRO-SER LTD)

Congratulations on winning the MVP Award for this year’s edition of the IFR Champions Cup. How would you rate your team’s performance in this tournament? First and foremost, I am extremely proud of my team’s overall performance. This MVP award reflects the team’s effort and not only my individual performance. Having said that, I am happy that I managed to scoop up the award as it represents a nice memory of a great tournament we attended. The team’s performance was outstanding. We have been playing together for a very long time now and winning this tournament was the icing on the cake.

How important was winning this tournament for you? We have played several tournaments in Malta, however, this tournament was extremely well organised, and it created a level of competitiveness that we were not expecting. This in turn gave us an even greater motive to win it. We closed off the year with another beautiful trophy in our cabinet. I would like to thank all my teammates for their efforts, not just during this tournament but during every other tournament we participated in.

Compared to other football tournaments in Malta, in your opinion, what is different about the IFR Champions Cup? Were you satisfied with the organisation of the tournament as a whole? The organisation of the tournament itself was amazing. The detail that the organisers went into was something I have never personally seen during corporate football tournaments, therefore a massive thank you to the organisers for an unforgettable weekend. The Opening Ceremony was jaw dropping as it almost felt like we were players of teams competing in the UEFA Champions League. Moreover, the village concept was something I never expected, and I loved the idea of being able to bring over family and friends for support and entertainment throughout the weekend. The whole team is excited for next year’s tournament, and we really do hope we can defend the champions cup.

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Goran LAZIC #1

BEST GK OF THE IFR CHAMPIONS CUP (CRO-SER LTD) You effected several amazing saves throughout the tournament – how does it feel to be chosen the best Goalkeeper of the IFR Champions Cup? Thank you for your kind comments. Chosen as the best Goalkeeper of the IFR Champions Cup is a fantastic feeling. It was an honour to be part of this tournament.

How would you rate your team’s performance during the tournament and how important was winning this tournament for you? We play football because we love the game. Every match is equally important irrespective of the final result. We come out as winners after every match we play.

Will you be coming back for next year’s edition and can we expect some more incredible saves from you? Yes, definitely. The organization was really fantastic. We managed to acquire a lot ofexperience from the tournament itself. I will keep working hard this year in order to produce even greater performances at the second edition of the IFR Champions Cup.

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Nikola MILOJEVIC #9 CAPTAIN OF THE IFR CHAMPIONS(CRO-SER LTD)

It must have been a proud moment for you when you lifted the IFR Champions Cup trophy. Give us an overview of your experience at this tournament, right from the start during the Opening Ceremony, all the way through to the final whistle? It was a pleasure to be part of the IFR Tournament! The concepts of the opening ceremony and draw were fantastic, surely never seen in Malta. We were already extremely satisfied with the given opportunity to participate at the tournament itself. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Zoran, the owner of Cro-Ser Ltd for bringing us all together and enabling our participation at the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup. We are even happier now that we have managed to lift this beautiful trophy at the end of the tournament. The organisation of the tournament itself was fantastic, everything was planned to perfection! All credit goes to the organisers and I am pretty sure that next year the tournament will be raised to an even higher level, even though honestly I don’t know whether that is possible since the first edition already set the highest standards.

How important was winning this tournament for you? It was really important for us since this was the first of its kind corporate football tournament in Malta. Winning the trophy was the nicest way to end such a fantastic tournament.

Are you excited for next year’s edition and are you expecting to see some innovative features? We are really looking forward to next year’s edition of the IFR Champions Cup. We are sure that the organisers will surprise us with new ideas even though, I repeat, this time the organisation was exceptional. I would like to conclude the interview by thanking the organisers for a wonderful weekend, for the attention given to us throughout the whole day, and for their professionalism during the weekend. We are excited for next year and we really do hope we can defend the Champions Cup.

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Sandro CHETCUTI

PRESIDENT OF THE MALTA DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION (MDA) What is MDA’s role in the Real Estate sector in Malta and in your opinion how do the iGaming & Fintech sectors affect it? MDA has been established for eight years. It first started off as a lobbyist entity that lobbied in favour of policies and incentives for the sector and now it has become an association that represents over 450 members. We represent the property sector; the construction industry, the developer, real estate agencies, traders and suppliers, such as renewable suppliers. MDA also promotes responsible, sustainable development that creates jobs, and benefits the communities in which its members work and live. The iGaming and Fintech sectors employ many people, especially foreigners, and therefore, this creates a demand for the letting and selling of properties. We are committed to continuisly bringing abandoned properties back to life, making use of old properties and developing new projects in areas where it is permissible to do so.

The team had quite a few tough matches in the build-up to the IFR Champions Cup Final. The best match of the tournament must have been the Quarter Final against Betsson Group which featured 2005 Champions League winner Mr. John Arne Riise in its ranks. How did it feel to win on penalties and progress to the next round? That Quarter Final was a particular game. Some refereeing decisions did not go our way and this resulted in us losing a man in the last crucial moments of the game, but that is football at the end of the day and we had to play the whistle. We were determined to continue doing our best even though we were playing with a man down. It was a tense game yet we managed to prevail at the end and, of course, overcoming opposition on penalties which also included Champions’ League winner Riise was a great feeling and achievement for us all.

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MDA managed to reach the Final and turn in a hard-fought battle against Cro-Ser Ltd. How would you rate the team’s performance at the IFR Champions Cup? There were teams that were very well oraganised like ourselves. We tried our utmost and, naturally we do not enjoy losing. Whatever we do, we do with passion. Having said that, it was not an easy task to reach the Final but I have to admit that the team who beat us were more than just organised. They were professionals used to playing football with one another. It was very hard for any local team to beat them. In my humble opinion we deserved to be in the Final and lost to the better team.

What are your thoughts on the concept of the IFR Champions Cup? Are you looking forward to next year’s edition? The whole concept and initiative were very positive. It was a great event that was professionally organised. I hope that more people will contribute to this noble gesture in such events to come. It was great fun for a good cause and we are greatly looking forward to next year.

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Luke MUSCAT #5 TEAM MEMBER OF ERNST & YOUNG (MALTA)

What role does EY play in the iGaming, Fintech & Real Estate sector? EY is a global leader in particularly four main areas: assurance, tax, transactions and advisory. Our services help to retain investors’ confidence, manage risks, strengthen controls and achieve our clients’ goals. We are leaders in the financial services industry, servicing local and international clients from a variety of sectors.

The EY team had a great tournament and finished off placing third at this year’s first edition of the IFR Champions Cup. How would you rate the team’s performance overall? I think that overall, we had a very good performance in the tournament, especially considering that this was the first tournament we entered with this team of players almost all being new. So, yes, we are extremely happy with the way we played and where we managed to get to. Also, initially we were just excited to take part in the tournament and never expected or assumed to finish in third place. So, progressing so much in the tournament and being one of the teams who came the closest to winning the tournament considering all the factors is even more satisfying.

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Fair Play is one of our core values. In your opinion, why is Fair Play important both on and off the field & how did it feel taking home this trophy? Fair Play is a very important aspect not only on the pitch but also in everyday life. We are thrilled to have won this award as it means a lot not only to the players but also to the firm. It is one of the values which EY values greatly and consistently tries to implement in everything we do because that is the kind of firm we are in which we want to build relationships based on doing the right thing.

What was your experience of such an event and concept? Will we be seeing you next year? We really enjoyed it and thought it was a great idea to create a platform in which firms and their employees from the leading sectors in Malta come together and have fun. Yes, definitely. We can’t wait for the next edition of the IFR Champions Cup to come and we look forward to participating again and hopefully going even further then we recently did.

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Alex GATT-VILJOEN #5 TOP GOALSCORER OF IFR CHAMPIONS CUP

You were simply lethal in front of goal. What does this award mean to you? I am very proud to have managed to get enough goals in to win the award. This couldn’t have been achieved without my fellow colleagues/teammates. It was a great day of football!

How do you rate your team’s performance during the tournament and do you feel that you guys could have possibly done better? Going into the tournament, our expectations were not to win but to perform as well as we can and ultimately have fun. Which we did! Obtaining 5th place was well deserved as we played well as a team, pressured our opponents as much as we could and scored goals.

What was your most memorable goal of the day? That would definitely have to be my goal in the last match of the day one. We were down 1-0 and the team just needed to draw to top our Group. Had our opponents won the match they would have finished first in the group. With a matter of minutes remaining of the match, I

was fouled outside the box and awarded a direct free kick. Our opponents filled the penalty box in attempt to defend the goal, I kept the ball low on the ground and guided the ball home for a 1-1 draw and hence we topped our group.

What is your overall impression of the IFR Champions Cup? Will you be coming back next year?

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I only have good words to say for the first ever IFR Champions Cup. Great atmosphere, food stalls, welcoming staff and most important of all, unforgettable football moments! Everyone showed fantastic sportsmanship too. Our team from Mr Green would love to return next year.


Valletta Waterfront History | Restaurants & Bars | Shopping | Events

Nineteen beautifully restored 18th century warehouses built during the late Baroque period, stretching along the water’s edge with a backdrop of historic bastions and fortifications. The gemstone buildings were originally commissioned by Grandmaster Pinto to be used as stores by the Knights of St. John. Today, ushering in a modern era, the iconic doors have been revived with an artistic impression of colour, representing the storage of goods from days past, with blue for fish, green for produce, yellow for wheat and red for wine. The heritage buildings have been transformed into a variety of lively restaurants and bars, retail outlets and offices. A host of services are available, ranging from ATM facilities to a pharmacy, Wi-Fi connections, telephony services, tourist information, transport and more.

www.vallettawaterfront.com


Meet Nikola.. Nikola is a semi-professional basketball player that has devoted the majority of his life to all sports. Having played football, tennis, waterpolo and basketball from a very young age, Nikola considers himself to be a sports fanatic that loves to compete and challenge others. Today, apart from still playing basketball in Malta’s top division and Malta’s national team, Nikola is also employed within the sportsbook department of Betsson Group, with specific focus on Basketball trading. Nikola graduated from the University of Malta in 2015 with an Honours Degree in

Banking and Finance. Nikola did not stop there, as he recently graduated from Global College Malta with an Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA), with the cherry on the cake being the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing obtained via ICE Malta. Prior to joining Betsson Group, Nikola has also worked in the consulting sector, specifically for two of the Big Four companies, Deloitte and KPMG Malta. At his short spell with Deloitte, Nikola formed part of the financial services industry (FSI) audit team, after which, he joined KPMG’s banking advisory services team, where he

spent another two years. One of Nikola’s dreams was to one day build a brand and he eventually decided to put one of his ideas into practice, ultimately giving birth to the concept of the ‘IFR Champions Cup’. Together with his partners, Andrew, Nora and Yiannis, Nikola decided to further boost the brand’s image by creating the first edition of the ‘IFR & Beyond’ magazine. There are many more ideas running through Nikola’s head and he, himself, together with his partners believe in the start of something beautiful, life-value-driven and unique.

What was your reasoning for incorporating and developing the company: ‘For A Cause Events Ltd’? How did you come up with the idea for such an innovative corporate sporting event? I live my life by the motto of “Do Well and Do Good” and it was always an idea of mine to eventually incorporate a company that would be both profitable with a potential for growth, but would at the same time cater for the needs of others less fortunate than us. For A Cause Events Ltd is not a not-for-profit organisation, it is an events management company with the vision of organising innovative, premiumistic events with the intention of directing a percentage of its proceeds from each organised or managed event to a variety of charity foundations and organisations. The IFR Champions Cup is the first event organised by the company and we strongly believe that it has created a strong base for further creativity and innovation within the team, not only in terms of the organisation of other similar events, but also in terms of the management and assistance to companies which share similar goals. The concept itself was born towards the end of April 2018 and with no experience in the organisation of events, the team came together and held their first meeting in Nora’s basement. We knew that we did not have much time to put it all together but the drive and ambition within the four us kept us going. I would like to give a shout-out to our very own in-house designer and marketer, Mladen Adnadj, without whom, our efforts would have faded into thin air. He helped us develop all of our marketing material, including the first edition of the IFR & Beyond magazine that you are currently reading. Moreover, i would like to thank Ninoslav Jovanovic from Ofion for offering us excellent marketing services. The IFR Champions Cup concept stems from other similar events that the team witnessed in other European Countries. We wanted to provide the best value possible to the participants, ensuring that they would feel as professional football players during that weekend. This, combined with the networking, and educational elements from our industry-experts, resulted in an unforgettable weekend for everyone involved. 61


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NIKOLA VASOVIC CEO OF FOR A CAUSE EVENTS LTD

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Where you happy with the overall result and turnout of the event? We are extremely proud of what we achieved over the course of four months. It was amazing to see so many people involved. Having said that, it was definitely not an easy task, but it was a task that I would repeat over and over again. The satisfaction that you feel after the event ends is indescribable. The challenge was ultimately matched with the opportunity to do something of value. We brought the three fastest growing industries in Malta together and ultimately succeeded in driving our company strategy and vision. Donating €9,000 to the Puttinu Cares and ALS Foundations made this event even more special to us.

“The IFR Champions Cup is the first event organised by the company and we strongly believe that it has created a strong base for further creativity and innovation within the team, not only in terms of the organisation of other similar events, but also in terms of the management and assistance to companies which share similar goals.” Are you looking forward to next year’s edition and are we in for any surprises? Of course! We have already started with plans and preparations for next year’s edition. Having initially collected feedback from a number of sponsors and participants, we analysed all we could and we are now in a very strong position to build an even greater customer experience during the IFR Champions Cup 2019. We have already received a number of requests from new companies willing to join the cup next year, leaving us with discussions for the potential increase in the number of teams in 2019, however this has still not been confirmed internally. We plan on having a much larger media presence this year and we are definitely working on streamlining various new features on our official website, our digital marketing channels and other channels, including a variety of other surprises that will be unveiled closer to the event itself. See you all in the next edition!

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ANDREW MICALLEF TRIGONA CCO OF FOR A CAUSE EVENTS LTD

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Meet Andrew.. Andrew is a sports enthusiast who has played all types of sports both at, club and social level from a very young age. His allround abilities and love for children set him off coaching sports from the age of 16 and went on to graduate from the University of Malta with a B.Educ Hons in Physical Education. Two years later at the age of 24, Andrew had the desire to embark on a new journey within the Real Estate In-

dustry. After nearly two years working as a letting specialist in one of Malta’s top agencies, Andrew jumped onto an opportunity of investing in one of the franchise offices of QuickLets & Zanzi Homes and is currently a branch partner and letting manager within the Attard branch. Andrew’s vast background of sports together with a unique skill set obtained over the years and helped him to join life-

long friend Nik Vasovic in developing the idea and creating the concept of the IFR Champions Cup through their event’s management company For A Cause Events, where a portion of proceeds of any event goes to charity. With Andrew’s strong appetite for success together with positive vibes and energy both from the QuickeLets & Zanzi Homes Attard branch and IFR Team, there is no holding this gentleman back.

What were your initial thoughts when forming the company and the experience of developing such a concept to become a reality? Naturally it was exciting when Nik discussed with me the idea of such a concept. We knew that we would be pressed for time considering this was back in April 2018 and we wished to hold the event in September a few weeks before the Delta and Malta Innovation Summit. That meant just four months, with no experience whatsoever with organising an event of such magnitude. It’s so satisfying to be able to go through minutes from our initial meetings and realise just how much we were able to progress with the idea in such little time. Having Nora and Yiannis in the team definitely helped our cause but this still meant that we were just four people, all with our own full time jobs. Yet we managed to prevail and only did so due to our commitment, work ethic and persistency.

Were you happy with the overall outcome of the event? I have to admit that this was the best and worst weekend of my life. The stress and pressure was unbelievable in the lead-up to the Opening Ceremony and prior to the first day kick off. Yet at the same time it was amazing to see the event unfold before my very eyes. This gave me great satisfaction and pride that we were able to pull it off especially knowing that so many people were there enjoying themselves. The fact that we were able to deliver a unique event here in Malta which involved the three leading sectors, whilst making connections and friendships on the way, and most especially knowing that we were able to raise €9,000 for charity as a result of this event is extremely rewarding.

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Are you looking forward to next year’s event? What are we to expect? Most definitely! I honestly cannot wait. This magazine is also something we were excited about as a lead-up to next year’s event and I hope our readers enjoy reading it. Next year’s

event is only going to be bigger and better. We have so many more ideas and surprises and I am definitely looking forward to delivering another one-of-a kind event with the rest of the team.

“The fact that we were to deliver a unique event here in Malta which involved the three leading sectors, whilst making connections and friendships on the way, and most especially knowing that we were able to raise €9,000 for charity as a result of this event is extremely rewarding!”

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Meet Yiannis.. Yiannis is a Greek-born entrepreneur who has a passion for business, travel, self-development, football and combat sports. He is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University in the UK, with a B.Sc Hons degree in International Hospitality Management. He developed a strong career in the hotel industry, having worked in various management positions within top international hotel groups such as Marriot and Hilton. During this time, he gained experience, knowledge and a skill

set which have made him a very methodical, disciplined and high-quality oriented entrepreneur. His drive for business enticed him to join the Real Estate industry where he eventually became a franchise owner in the Attard branch of the biggest and fastest growing Real Estate company in Malta, the QuickLets & Zanzi Homes Group. Following that, he joined Nik, Andrew and Nora on a new business venture, an extraordinary event management company called ‘For a Cause Events’. The

com- pany’s first goal in this venture was to create Malta’s most unique and premium football tournament, the IFR Champions Cup. The first edition of the tournament generated very positive feedback from the participating companies and guests! Yiannis and the team are very excited, motivated and determined in providing an even better event and a more premium experience to everyone involved in the 2019 edition of the IFR Champions Cup.

How did the ‘IFR Champions Cup’ and the ‘For a Cause Events’ venture come about for you? It was my friend and branch partner Andrew who initially approached me and told me about Nik’s idea to create a premium football tournament for three of the leading industries in Malta. The vision was for this to be a top-level team building and networking event, using football as a way to bring these interrelated industries together and at the same time giving back to our community by partnering with local charity foundations. I immediately loved everything about it and all four of us worked together in order to further develop and turn this awesome vision into reality. An amazing journey so far!

How long did it take you guys to do this? We started in at the end of April 2018 and the event took place at the end of September 2018, so just under five months. To start something like this from scratch and deliver it in a short time certainly wasn’t an easy task. However we planned everything very well and successfully divided all tasks and

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then assigned them accordingly depending on each individual’s strong points. We worked seamlessly together as a team, every single one of us really delivered on their objectives and I honestly think that our cohesiveness as a team and our strong belief in this concept was the key for our success.


YIANNIS PARASKEVAS CMO OF FOR A CAUSE EVENTS LTD

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“The vision was for this to be a top-level team building and networking event, using football as a way to bring these interrelated industries together and at the same time giving back to our community by partnering with local charity foundations.” What is the plan for the company for 2019 and the near future? In the short term the main focus is to repeat the IFR Champions Cup in 2019 and to really catapult the entire event experience to a new level. We have really taken note of all feedback provided which we will utilize but we have also come up with some awesome new ideas that will certainly make an impact on this year’s

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event. In the long term we want to expand on the company’s vision and diversify our event portfolio by creating more unique, top quality events and always for a good cause, ensuring that we are giving back to our community and helping those that may not be as fortunate as we are.


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NORA SCHEMBRI COO

OF FOR A CAUSE EVENTS LTD 73


Meet Nora.. Nora is a professional make-up artist that has always loved and followed sports. From a very young age, Nora was always active, from running around in her back yard, to doing gymnastics, and now constantly visiting the gym. Today, Nora is fully devoted to the company and her make-up career. Prior to opening her own private freelance make-up brand, Nora used to work on a full-time basis as a make-up artist at INGLOT. She was also present as a make-up artist in numerous local events such as the ‘Malta Fashion Week’.

Nora completed several different beauty and make-up courses. All the courses were done at Biocare Malta. The first course Nora completed in 2011 was a Level 3 Certificate in Fashion and Photographic Make-Up (VTCT). In 2016, Nora went on to acquire the Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Specialist Techniques (Salon/Beauty Management). During the same calendar year, Nora also decided to complete a Semi-Permanent Make-Up and Semi-Permanent Advanced Make-Up Techniques (Semi-Permanent Tattooing) course. One of Nora’s passions

is the organisation of exclusive events, ranging from cool, themed parties to conferences and seminars. Every June, it has become a tradition for Nora and the IFR team to organise a themed pool party for Nora’s Birthday. Nora never fails to surprise the guests and every year the party becomes bigger and greater. Nora is extremely attentive to detail and always seeks to add something that will differentiate her from others. Nora is an important IFR team member, with unique qualities that are shown through her powerful passion, values and beliefs.

What was your experience in being one of the four organisers of the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup? Did you enjoy yourself along the way? I must admit that it was not an easy journey at all. We had a limited time-frame but we really gave it our all and we really do hope that the participants enjoyed the event as much as we did. Each of us had unique roles to play in putting the whole concept together. Now looking back at how it all started, I am extremely proud of myself and the team of what we have achieved. Having said that, this is only the start of something special. I enjoyed every minute of the experience. This was the first time we embarked on a project like this and we are thankful for the support we got from all our friends and families. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Of course, there were tough moments along the way, however, overall, this was a special experience for me and the team.

How do you rate the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup? Has it exceeded your initial expectations? To achieve something big like this in a matter of months is something that each event organiser dreams of. When Nik came up with the idea, we were all pessimistic at first, however, as Nik went on to explain the concept, we all just looked at each other and decided to go for it. All the hard work and dedication really paid off. We are extremely happy that we managed to get an influx of positive comments and feedback about the event. As already stated by the others, we are proud and happy that

via the event we managed to help two charity foundations. This is an important value to us, on an IFR and For A Cause Events level. Profits are the last thing we care about – we help others first, we network with others and make new friends whilst doing something we enjoy. Overall, the event has exceeded my initial expectations. It was bigger than I expected, and we are now working on organising an even bigger and better IFR Champions Cup next year.

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“To achieve something big like this in a matter of months is something that each event organiser dreams of.” Are you looking forward to next year’s edition? Can we expect some innovative features? I really cannot wait for the 2019 edition. Plans have already started, and we are doing our utmost to grow the event and make it even more popular amongst the participants and the general public too. Of course, we have new surprises, however, we will not unveil them now! We are internally discussing the possibility of adding an IFR Champions Cup – Women’s edition next year too. We already have some companies requesting this, but we are exploring our options for the time being. See you all in the next edition!

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NORA ADVERT


Meet Mladen.. Mladen is an indispensable member of the IFR team. His dedication, creativeness and unique ability to create fascinating artwork has placed him at the forefront of the team’s overall marketing efforts. His versatility in photography, videography and graphic design enables him to create brands, right from the very beginning to the very end of their life cycle. Mladen has designed all the marketing material for the IFR brand and has contributed to the overall success of the tournament in multiple ways. Currently, Mladen helps the ‘For A Cause Events Ltd’ team on all their projects and is constantly focusing on learning new soft and hard skills in the field. Mladen supports the company’s vision of creating exclusive/premium private and corporate events, with the noble mission of giving back to the community. For him, being able to give back to others less fortunate than ourselves is the action of true gentlemen and women. Mladen believes that the IFR Champions Cup brand will undoubtedly become one of the best, if not the best, corporate football tournaments in the World.

Mladen Adnadj mladenadn88@gmail.com

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IFR & Beyond  

IFR stands for iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate. These three leading industries are the three fastest growing industries in Malta. The goal...

IFR & Beyond  

IFR stands for iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate. These three leading industries are the three fastest growing industries in Malta. The goal...

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