Absolute beginners to the world of blockchain will soon have the chance to learn from leaders in the industry, in a unique event that will also explore how Malta can pioneer this technological breakthrough. Laura Bonnici speaks with blockchain expert Jasper de Trafford to find out how Blockchain for Beginners could help pave the way for Malta’s future, while saving a vital piece of the island’s past.

“We cannot imagine a world without the internet. It has radically transformed the way we interact with each other and conduct business - just look at Facebook and Amazon; companies which did not even exist 20 years ago. By contrast, most people do not even know what blockchain means – and yet, in my view, blockchain will be bigger than the internet.”

Jasper de TraffordJasper de Trafford

Blockchain expert Jasper de Trafford is not alone in foreseeing that the tech created to support cryptocurrency could indeed mark a new frontier in global technology. Having already transformed the world’s financial sector, affecting everything from foreign exchange to the stock markets, the blockchain phenomenon has now the potential to affect every aspect of life – even to a greater extent than the dawn of the internet.

As the director of Zeta, an advisory firm operating in the fintech area with a focus on blockchain, de Trafford is well-placed to recognise this relatively new technology’s potential in the business sector, and beyond. But first, he hopes to share his extensive knowledge and experience regarding blockchain with those who are interested in taking their first steps into this new world, through a unique event taking place in Malta later this month.

At Blockchain for Beginners, de Trafford will offer a back-to-basics take on blockchain alongside fellow industry experts Matthew Sacco, a Blockchain developer at Ledger Projects; Mark Bugeja, the chairman of Tech MT, and the event’s organiser James Wicker, a technology consultant who advised large multinational corporations on the likely impacts of breakthrough technologies on their respective industries, and who now assists several blockchain ventures.

At this one-off event on March 28, these industry professionals will lead an exciting talk that will guide blockchain newcomers through the basics of this ground-breaking technology and the possible impact it could have on Malta’s future. The talk will be followed by a fun panel discussion and a question and answer session moderated by Jo Caruana.

Blockchain for Beginners also perfectly coincides with Malta’s growing global reputation as ‘The Blockchain Island’; a title coined for Malta in 2018 when the island nation launched three world-first legal bills establishing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, blockchain and DLT in general, and hosted the first edition of the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit later that year. Now the country is set to pioneer blockchain even further through additional regulation that is possibly already on the Maltese government’s radar, and via the second Malta AI & Blockchain Summit that is planned for May 2019.

“By embracing blockchain technology and introducing a legal framework for blockchain businesses, Malta has established itself as the ‘Blockchain Island’ and succeeded in attracting global attention and international investment,” continues de Trafford. “That generated a great deal of publicity and hype. However, it’s possible that people who are not directly involved in this new sector have been left wondering what blockchain is, and unable to distinguish between the reality and hype. Blockchain for Beginners is a chance to address that.”

Through the event, de Trafford hopes not just to narrow the possible knowledge gap regarding blockchain, but also to raise awareness – as well as much-needed funds – for a key part of Malta’s heritage. All profits from Blockchain for Beginners will go towards the Save Valletta’s Skyline Appeal, which aims to raise more than €8 million to fund vital restoration work on the tower, spire and structure of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, so keeping the Cathedral’s iconic silhouette at the heart of Valletta’s famous skyline.

“I can’t imagine Valletta without the Anglican Cathedral,” says de Trafford.

“Not only is it an architectural gem, it is also symbolic of Malta and England’s shared history and close cultural ties. Unfortunately the Cathedral is in urgent need of repair, and without the appeal the building would continue to deteriorate and risk collapsing. As a nation, I feel we should not take our incredible built heritage for granted, so I hope the enthusiasm generated by our efforts leads to greater interest in preserving other deserving monuments and heritage buildings across the island – thus ensuring Malta’s rich history and heritage is honoured, as it embraces a bright future through blockchain.”

Blockchain for Beginners, a talk in aid of Save Valletta Skyline will be held at Palazzo De la Salle, Valletta on March 28, 2019 at 6.15pm. Tickets cost €25 and may be booked in advance via e-mail on petragd@guisthall.com. This event is kindly sponsored by Charles Grech and Fifth Flavour.


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