“Bolt is in the business of creating digital marketplaces,” begins TXF Tech CEO Sebastian Ripard, asserting that the aim of any marketplace is to connect supplier with the consumer. “Bolt leverages its tech know-how to connect supplier with the consumer through a digital ecosystem. The business of TXF Tech is to act as Bolt’s agent in Malta, Cyprus and Tunisia, supporting the creation and operation of these digital marketplaces.”
Having started his career working for a fashion retailer in Malta and North Africa before joining a shipping company based in Malta, Sebastian says that he became frustrated with the lack of technology in both industries.
“The importance of technology became extremely apparent as the platform economy rose out of the ashes of the 2008 global economic crash,” he explains, highlighting disrupters like Uber, AirBnB and Ryanair, which leveraged technology to match supplier and consumer in efficient and innovative ways, which quickly made them become existential threats to incumbent players within those industries.
His first experience in a tech-based platform business came about through Fetchit, an on-demand delivery company that Sebastian co-founded.
“Whilst this did not turn out to be a business success, it taught me a lot about how difficult and expensive (both in time and money!) it was to get the technology right,” he reveals, adding that this led him on to Bolt, which is a great fit. “Our Estonian partners provide us with fantastic technology (as well as the brand and other crucial ingredients) and our role is to operate and maintain the different marketplaces,” he explains.
According to Sebastian, his involvement with the Young Chamber Network came about as a consequence of the nature of the business he is in.
“As with any other technological change and disruption, the platform economy forces us to re-evaluate laws and regulations,” he says, calling for regulatory catch-up which acknowledges that it is here to stay and will continue to exist. “We believe that we should start a national discussion on finding an equitable way forward to ensure that the platform economy can truly deliver value to all of its stakeholders.”
As a company, we intend to initiate a round table initiative with a number of stakeholders to first explain the platform economy and its fundamentals, but more importantly, to ensure that Malta can be a model country in this regard,” Sebastian continues, adding that The Chamber is the best place for such a discussion to take place. “The Chamber is where stakeholders can meet – it is the forum that can connect the private and public sectors in meaningful dialogue.”
Addressing the changing face of the local economy as a result of COVID-19, the CEO believes that the economy is in constant change, and as the rate of technological development increases, so too will the rate of economic change increase.
“I see The Chamber continuing to be the forum that it currently is, providing the space where all stakeholders, private and public, can come together and have meaningful discussions. Whilst this is currently the role that The Chamber plays, I believe it needs to work hard at continuing to have relevant discussions. As the rate of change increases, so too will the need for these discussions to happen and be concluded. The time for never-ending discussion is over, the need to be agile and reactive is becoming increasingly apparent.”
This feature was first carried in the February/March edition of the Commercial Courier