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Joseph Borg: “Blockchain? Our framework is tough”

Dr Joseph F. Borg is an Advocate and Partner at WH Partners, heading the Blockchain Advisory and the Gaming and Gambling Advisory sections of the firm. He also practices in the areas of Esports, Corporate, IT, Telecoms and Intellectual Property Law. He also lectures Gaming Law at the University of Malta.

Joe is a Co-Founder and currently the Vice-President of Bitmalta, which is a non-profit organisation with a mission to promoting and stimulating discussion about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Malta. Before joining WH Partners he occupied the post of Chief Regulatory Officer of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority – Malta.

What do you expect from the next Delta Summit? What will you talk about in your speech as a speaker?

Certainly, we will not see the vibe that we have seen a year ago when the words Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies where on everybody’s mouth. A number of factors have contributed to this, including the high volatility of cryptocurrencies, the tough framework implemented by Malta to regulated service providers in this space as well as for new cryptocurrencies offerings as well as the slow adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by mainstream and institutional players. During the summit, I will be moderating two panels entitled ‘What is the next industrial Revolution?’ and ‘Judicial and legal deeds registered on the blockchain. Are they the perfect fit?’ respectively. I am particularly excited about the latter panel since we will discuss certain challenges and opportunities in relation to the registration of public deeds such as contracts of immovable property as well as judicial acts such as court decidions. The other panel is a lighter discussion on what the participants think will be the next big thing, following the internet, mobile, the cloud, blockchain and AI.

What are the strengths of the Maltese legal system for investments in new technologies? Where can we still work?

Malta has always been at the forefront of innovation. Being a small country, allows its governments and legislators to be more dynamic, responsive and when possible pro-active. Malta has managed to come up with the most comprehensive regulatory framework when it comes to decentralized ledger technology and services related thereto. We also have a task force that is currently working on an AI framework. This without forgetting that Malta is the most important jurisdiction for online gaming and has been the European leader in this for more than a decade.

Are the three Maltese laws on Blockchain Island proving effective in their application one year after their approval?

Let’s face it – the framework is very tough. There are jurisdictions that have adopted a lighter touch approach. Malta will only work for those looking at a long term solution, as long as they are adequately funded, have a good financial backing and have a high level of governance. In the next couple of years more frameworks around Europe and in the more sophisticated jurisdictions outside of Europe, will resemble the Maltese regulatory framework. In the end, this will be the way to go and lighter touch frameworks will become extinct. Therefore, I believe that we will not gage the success of the Maltese framework until there is a more homogenous approach taken across such jurisidictions. But when this happens, I am convinced that Malta will be a few steps ahead.


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