During this week’s current affairs programme, Professor Alexiei Dingli shared an update on the impact that the corona virus had on blockchain technology and an update on the local use of cryptocurrency.
‘Bitcoin has been fluctuating quite a lot. If you look at Bitcoin in 2015 it was around Euros 400 per Bitcoin and in 2018 it went up to Euros 17,000 per Bitcoin.
In Malta we have also experienced a rise in cybercrime since the outbreak of the virus and you get people advertising schemes to get rich quickly. For example there were people who may have spent money on these schemes and then in reality found it quite hard to get their money back out of it.
People were selling fake COVID-19 vaccines advertising that you could get the vaccine before anyone else only if you paid by bitcoin. These crimes are hard or impossible to trace.
Another was the blackmail scam where emails were sent to users asking for money transfers by bitcoin.
Fraudulent schemes are varied, and since a lot of people were staying at home because of COVID-19, these criminals started to target people who were online.
However having said that, I see a lot of potential for blockchain technology in Malta in general.
Of course the cryptomarket is very much in the embryonic stage and the technology has to evolve further. There are a lot of risks with being a first mover in an unchartered territory. Malta was quite avantgarde when it came to the implementing the technology. In Malta, legislation was good and quite advanced however there is always this balance with giving due diligence to the companies which operate within the cryptomarket and the space to work within that market. The issue of the pandemic did not help and complicated matters further.
When you have a combination of these elements, I believe it was the cause of some of the problems which we were having in the last year’
Professor Alexiei Dingli, specialist in Artificial Intelligence