The metaverse, as well as technological developments in the field of blockchain and AI, create a vast array of opportunities, according to Malta’s budding accountants, but establish new risk of abuse associated with money-laundering, tax evasion and financing of terrorism.
A Forum hosted by the Malta Institute of Accountants’ (MIA) Young Members Focus Group highlighted how metaverse, blockchain and NFTs are opening up new realities in the space of digital ownership, supply chain transparency, and investment opportunities while creating new revenue streams in diverse sectors of the economy.
Opening the event, MIA President David Delicata highlighted the economic opportunities that such technology presents. Comparing the impact of this technological revolution to the rise of the Internet, Mr Delicata recalled that just a few decades ago, the widespread availability of the Internet was met with concern, but through time, not only were these concerns addressed accordingly but the internet has transformed the way we do things, including business. Similarly, society has to learn how to regulate the developments associated with the subject matter to ensure that while the opportunities are fully utilised, abuse is identified and addressed.
MIA CEO Maria Cauchi Delia observed how, while technology is acting as a major disruptor within the financial industry, it has also enabled the creation of new opportunities for accountancy professionals and will continue to do so. Despite the challenges that such developments bring about, at the same time this reality is another living proof of how dynamic the profession is.
Three panels of knowledgeable speakers shared their views on the impact of recent advancements in these fields on matters relating to investment, the regulatory, legal and fiscal sphere and accounting and taxation, also with an eye on developments initiated at European level. Across the panels, a recurrent consideration focused on the fact that digital elements such as NFTs will require a rethinking of fundamentals related to their nature, given that their role could range from that of tradeable securities to possessions equivalent to intellectual property.
Touching base on the main challenges when it comes to these aspects, including AML, the speakers highlighted the need for technology, law and finance professionals to consult and come together when dealing with these areas, and the importance of communicating with the relevant authorities.
Besides regulation, accountancy professionals highlighted the need for education across the board, from the general public, to the authorities and regulators, with the latter facing a continuous race for time against money-launderers, fraudsters and tax evaders who keep seeking to maximise the opportunities given to them by evolving technology.
Mr Dean Micallef, Chairperson of the MIA Young Members Focus Group, brought the event to a close by underlining the fact that these new technological developments required a change in mindset and highlighting that the responsibility of industry professionals to take it on. "Remain interested because it is going to keep moving”, were Mr Micallef’s final words of advice to all those present for the event.
The well-attended event, held at Villa Arrigo, also featured the traditional networking element at the end of the sessions, helping to bring together the vibrant community of young professionals within the Institute as well as strengthen connections across different professions.