Angelo Dalli is an artificial intelligence expert and serial tech entrepreneur combining deep technical ability with commercial acumen.
He has founded nine start-ups, been involved in four IPOs/M&As, and invested in over 40 successful companies in the technology, entertainment, and FinTech industries.
His most recent endeavour is UMNAI, a deeptech, AI-focused solutions provider.
What makes Malta an ideal place to set up a business involved in new financial technology?
The strong presence of financial institutions and related operators, such as FinTech companies and neobanks, creates an attractive ecosystem for start-ups in the field.
Then there are all the other reasons for investors’ interest in Malta, not specific to the FinTech space. The taxation system, a stable political and economic environment, and the fact that English is the primary business language make Malta an attractive jurisdiction.
The financial regulator, the MFSA, also has extensive experience in regulating the sector, allowing for a practical approach towards setting up new businesses and operating current ones
What should investors unfamiliar with the local start-up scene keep in mind when choosing Malta as a base?
Malta has an advanced economy and a population with a high standard of education. Although remote work is increasingly making physical location less important, the quality of life and the surroundings, coupled with the stable economy and practical commercial laws, make it attractive as a base.
Various incentives are available, and the local angel investor network in Malta, Business Angels Malta, can also help investors navigate the Maltese start-up scene.
What developments do you see in the European future-tech market?
The European FinTech market, with its strong emphasis on regulation, privacy, and data sovereignty, is poised to be a model for the rest of the world. The upcoming AI Act, which will bring about EU-wide regulation of AI, focuses on technology applications that have a direct impact on citizen’s lives – and financial services are obviously one of those services.
The fact that the EU is regulating such activities and addressing widespread concerns about tech companies that sometimes overreach in their control and use of their own clients’ data is a positive evolution of the European FinTech landscape.
I envisage that the end result will be more trusted applications that protect people’s rights to control their own data and the way that it is utilised.
What is UMNAI all about, and how important is Malta’s support to its development?
UMNAI is focusing on creating a new Hybrid Intelligence framework for financial services operators and financial technology companies that provides AI solutions with trustworthiness, auditability, and transparency in mind.
One of the main problems with modern AI is that the basis of its decision-making process cannot be fully understood with absolute certainty, making it problematic from a regulatory point of view.
With this in mind, UMNAI has invested millions into the creation of a new type of AI technology through our innovation team in Malta. The experience we had with support from Malta Enterprise and relatively easy access to the right decision-makers highlights the appeal Malta has for such FinTech businesses. The support received also enabled UMNAI to successfully file over 21 patents in AI in the EU, the US, and Taiwan, with a number already granted.
Which elements in the emerging fields of new technology could find Malta to be a good fit for their needs?
Malta can be a good fit for activities that depend on small teams of reasonably qualified people, for example, in providing customer support and for developing niche applications. The regulatory sandbox environments available from the MDIA can also help small development teams test and iterate software solutions rapidly, and export them successfully to other jurisdictions.
This feature was first carried in the Malta Invest 2023 edition. Malta Invest is the first-ever comprehensive international investment guide focusing on Malta as a destination. It is produced by Content House Group.