Malta gearing up for blockchain revolution

The Maltese government has started revealing details of an ambitious plan to turn the island into one of the first countries in the world to embrace the blockchain technology.

iGaming, Digital Economy Junior Minister Silvio Schembri said that the plans are twofold – for blockchain to be rolled out across the board in the public sector and for Malta to become a hub for international companies that operate on the technology.

“We already have all the elements in place to embrace blockchain – a gaming sector and a robust gaming authority, a strong financial services sector, a reliable ICT infrastructure, an attractive taxation system, and a flexible and pro-business government,” he said in an interview with MT.

“We’ve heard enough about the opportunities posed by blockchain and it’s now time to put words into action to create new opportunities for both citizens and the economy. It’s my priority to turn this vision into a reality.”

The plan is to implement blockchain across the public sector, most notably in the Lands Registry – which will be made public – and the national health registries.

Hon. Schembri added that a project to promote blockchain in the education sector will also be announced by the education ministry in the coming days.
has said it is his priority to pioneer Malta into embracing blockchain.

silvio-schembri

Parliamentary Secretary Hon. Silvio Schembri, responsible for the Government’s new Blockchain policy

‘Blockchain is the new iGaming’ 

On a macro-level, Schembri said the government plans to turn Malta into a hub for businesses that operate on blockchain, in a similar fashion as it had attracted iGaming companies.

These will include companies that offer services in smart contracts, which use blockchain technology to verify and enforce business contracts quickly and in a manner that is non-tamperable – essentially cutting out the lawyers.

To this end, a new authority will be set up to regulate the new industry and to hand out licences to them as the Malta Gaming Authority does to gaming companies.

As with iGaming, the aim will be for these companies to boost the Maltese economy through taxes, licence fees, and economic consumption of their Malta-based employees.

“There are many of these companies out there who are itching to have a proper licence under which to operate, and we could be the first in Europe – if not the world – to provide them,” Schembri said. “Some oil companies are interested in shifting to blockchain – can you imagine how much money we can earn through taxation if they register in Malta?”

He added that Malta would have an edge in attracting these companies because the Labour government is particularly business-friendly – ministers and even the Prime Minister often agree to meet up with businesspeople only a few days after receiving an e-mail request.

“This government is very accessible and it doesn’t shy away from taking decisions, even controversial ones, if they are in the country’s best interests.”

Blockchain, Cryptocorrencies and Disruptive Tech will take centre stage this year at SiGMA, with a dedicated conference and world class speakers from all over the world. Registration for this summit is open, with a sold out floor plan and around eighty startups and VCs lined up for the Startup Pitch.

Meet Carsten, Owner of Poker-apps.net

“Start in a small niche and try to create the best website in this sector. Grow from there.” We met Carsten, the Owner of poker-apps.net.

Hello Carsten, how are you?

Hey Marius, I’m great, thanks.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I started my first WordPress blog a few years ago. It was quite successful, so I looked out for a niche where I can make some money with my new hobby. I played a lot of poker on my iPad back then, so I started blogging about poker apps in 2011. I started some more sites in different niches and it’s a full time job now. Slots express is my latest casino project.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

My company has been a one man show for a couple of years. But lately I began to outsource a few things to freelance writers and editors.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

No, not at all. In Germany, Axel Springer and Burda started sports betting projects a few months ago. I’ve expected that big non-gambling media companies would enter the market sooner or later. And I guess you have to be a big company if you want to compete with these players. So the mergers made perfectly sense to me. However, I’m quite sure that small affiliates can still find a niche to survive in.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

Nope, and I’m not planning to either.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

With the recent Fred update and even earlier in December I’ve seen some sites drop in organic search that have been solid for years. My conclusion is: I will spend more energy in optimizing existing content than in creating tons of new content.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

I focus on the German speaking countries because writing German content is what I am really good at.

How do you find German market and competition?

The competition is quite hard in Germany. With the big brands like Bild and Focus joining the market, it is getting even tougher. But it’s worth the effort so far.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

Most of my traffic comes via SEO. In my opinion, with the latest updates it’s even more important to offer excellent content to succeed here. Write less but better content and keep it up to date. And don’t over-optimize it. That’s what I’m currently sticking to.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Hm, I’ve been thinking about a lottery site for a while now, but so far I haven’t found the time to develop the idea. My other projects are keeping me busy.

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?

Well, I guess that every webmaster claims he has good content. But to me this is really the most important thing. I worked for a newspaper for many years. And even if I don’t write every single piece of content by myself anymore, I’m still editing every single article by myself to make sure the quality is top-notch.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Poker-apps.net has always been a pure mobile project. Mobile was a big opportunity and I’m happy that I was one of the first affiliates to focus on this niche. I guess that’s why I was successful although I never invested much time or money in link building. The only downside from my point of view is mobile tracking. This is still an issue at some operators.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Besides the daily struggles like creating outstanding content, dealing with Google updates, spam and negative SEO campaigns? For the German market the legal and regulatory changes seem to be the biggest challenge.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

1. Don’t go big unless you have lots of resources. Start in a small niche and try to create the best website in this sector. Grow from there.

2. Don’t expect quick success. You have to be patient and keep up the good work for a long time.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Yes, I play slots sometimes. But not too often and only with low stakes or in play money mode. If I would win the jackpot, I might open a small cocktail bar with really good drinks. And I’d love to have my own ski lodge in Austria. A classic Porsche would be a good investment, too.

Are you ready for SiGMA17?

I’m already looking forward to SIGMA 2017. I really liked the event last year.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?