Looking ahead to IOMA 2020 in Malta

Published by: Joseph Portelli, Chairman, Malta Stock Exchange (MSE) Apr 2019

What a pleasure to have participated in the 36th IOMA: WFE’s Clearing & Derivatives Conference held in Mumbai between 2-4 April 2019. By all measures, it was a very well organised conference, and a huge success; our colleagues at the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) were brilliant hosts. It was an opportunity to meet old friends and to make new acquaintances, from countries far and wide, with many of us sharing a common goal: to promote the efficient transfer of capital. At the end of the day, many of the conference’s 250-plus participants, in some capacity or other, act as a crucial pillar to their economy, doing their part to help drive global GDP growth, create jobs, and generate wealth.

I’m very honoured that the WFE has chosen Malta as the 2020 host of the 37th IOMA: WFE’s Clearing & Derivatives Conference to be held between 25-27 March 2020. Although the Malta Stock Exchange has been affiliated with the WFE for over 25 years, it is the first time we have been chosen to host a major WFE conference. Indeed, we have already begun the planning process and anticipate giving the international delegates a very warm, Mediterranean welcome.

Malta is currently one of Europe’s fastest growing economies, and you can sense a vibe of excitement in the air. For such a small country - half the size of Singapore - we attract over 2.7 million visitors each year. That’s six times the size of our population! Malta has a long and rich history dating back to 5900 BC. From the Phoenicians to the Carthaginians, to the Arabs, French, and British, few countries have such a rich mixture of diverse cultural influences. Although late March in Malta can still be a bit chilly, you should expect mostly sunny blue skies and mild weather.

Ultimately, conferences such as IOMA should be about learning, sharing best practices, networking, and exchanging ideas relevant to our industry. The IOMA 2019 Mumbai conference offered just that, with a rich programme of distinguished speakers and substantive discussions. From presentations centred on the WFE’s recent ‘Future of Clearing’ paper with Oliver Wyman, to panels on foreign exchange clearing, margining, derivatives, risk management, as well as on crypto and digital tokens, there was a continual stream of varied and stimulating discussion.

Although you can expect the IOMA 2020 conference in Malta to focus primarily on discussions relating to CCPs, clearing and derivatives, we anticipate perhaps a broader discussion on blockchain and the future of digitisation and security tokens. Malta has become one of the global leaders in drafting laws that regulate digital assets. By the end of 2020, we expect as many as a dozen licensed and MIFID-regulated security token exchanges to be operating out of Malta. Last year, the Malta Stock Exchange signed two MoUs with leading digital currency exchanges to launch digital exchanges for security tokens. The Malta Stock Exchange also recently established MSX to be our digital asset arm. We anticipate we will have the infrastructure in place to list security tokens by Q4 2019. Like our colleagues in Gibraltar, Switzerland, and Thailand, among others, we believe a new era in how companies raise capital is upon us.

It is important to highlight that the tokenisation evolution isn't just about equities. Tokenisation promises to become the ultimate method of unlocking value in a whole range of assets, from bonds and private debt to real estate, art, intellectual property and more. The dwindling number of IPOs and the privatisation of public companies by cash-rich private equity buyers mean there are fewer investment opportunities for investors. Tokenisation will help to reverse that trend, promising nothing less than the re-democratisation of finance.

We are really looking forward to hosting the 37th IOMA: WFE’s Clearing & Derivatives Conference in Malta next March. In addition to stimulating discussion, networking and business opportunities, we anticipate our IOMA guests will also enjoy great food, drink, and an excellent all-around experience in our wonderful country.