What are the Opportunities and Risks of Blockchain In Finance?

FinanceMalta and Blockchain Malta have joined forces to promote ‘BlockFinance’, a new series devoted to helping all financial practitioners better understand the opportunities and risks of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency.

The birth of the Blockchain Island strategy has given way to the hard work of developing the laws, rules and regulations of this technology. While the MFSA assiduously crafts the framework for the financial sector in cryptocurrency and DLT, the need for understanding the risks and opportunities has never been more acute. With that in mind FinanceMalta and Blockchain Malta have combined efforts to bring a new series of events to help all practitioners in the financial centre with individual sectoral briefings. The series kicked off at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard on July 31st where the ballroom was packed to capacity for the breakfast/morning briefing session with over 120 practitioners registered.

In order to encourage an open dialogue among practitioners, the BlockFinance sessions take place under Chatham House Rule which helped fuel a lively debate for the sellout opening event. The discussion was led by Junior Minister Silvio Schembri who outlined a great array of opportunities and threats facing Malta as well as the financial sector.

Equally, thanks are due to Mamo TCV who sponsored the opening event with their fintech counsel Roberta Peresso involved in the excellent panel session alongside the Minister, and Chris Buttigieg from MFSA who brought the audience up to date with the rapidly-evolving nature of the regulatory developments fleshing out the DLT laws through the MFSA regulations which are being assiduously developed with the aim of being ready before winter.

Given the simply breathtaking pace of DLT adoption by Parliament and regulators, the BlockFinance series will discuss four specific sectors before Christmas in similar morning briefings at the Corinthia Palace Hotel.

On the 18th September, the seminar briefing will be devoted to asset management. Discussion will centre around key topics in the business of fund management from custody, through auditing and accounting, as well as the regulatory issues pertaining not just to the Maltese financial centre but also how the DLT framework interacts with the likes of UCITS guidelines et al. Indeed, the question even arises, will new forms of fund emerge in the future given the impact of smart contracts

The 11th October will see the third event in the series at the Corinthia Palace Hotel focusing on how the banking sector can approach distributed ledger technology. This session is sponsored by Camilleri Preziosi Advocates. Far from the headline-grabbing cryptocurrencies, this session will focus purely on how banks are looking to both avoid the risks of deploying new technology such as blockchain, and how this can manage risks to the banking sector as well as delivering opportunities in existing and new areas for banks. At the opening event of the series in July, Ivo Camilleri, Head of Electronic Banking at BOV already showcased some of the key issues pertaining to technology implementation and innovation in legacy banks.

In November, BlockFinance will look at the Insurance and Pensions sector. At the opening session on July 31st, Ian-Edward Straface, from Atlas Insurance gave some fascinating insights into how Atlas Insurance have already pioneered the distributed ledger in a Maltese insurance application while Theo Dix from EY was discussing the company’s involvement with the intriguing consortium of insurers and major shipping companies insuring shipping hulls. Both Theo and Ian will return to give more sector specific insights on November 8th during the event sponsored by RSM Malta.

In the final seminar before Christmas, there is a special event which focuses on something every practitioner in the financial space faces day in, day out: clearing and settlement. Whatever you transact, the settlement chain is a key area being shaken up by all manner of distributed ledger technologies. In this respect, whether it’s settling insurance policies, banking transactions or securities trades, fund administration, etc. ...every single element of settlement is being shaken up by DLT and blockchain.

Among other speakers, Patrick L Young will discuss several of his writings on the topic as settlement moves towards a real-time environment, even in areas which have traditionally taken days or weeks to revolve.

Having gone from zero to warp speed with the Blockchain Island strategy, BlockFinance is already playing a key role in better understanding the risks and opportunities for all actors within the financial centre of Malta. The seminars are open to all and can be booked/paid for via the FinanceMalta website. Registrations are on a first come, first served basis. No technological understanding is expected for those who wish to attend the briefing pertinent to their sector.

If you want to understand how blockchain can impact your business, we look forward to welcoming you to BlockFinance.

Author Patrick L Young wrote the original “fintech” book Capital Market Revolution! (FT Prentice Hall 1999) and is chairman of Blockchain Malta. 

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