How Malta Can Fix Its Global Reputation And Rebuild Its Economy By Becoming The New (Digital) Homebase For The First Billion Of Remote Workers By 2030

We need to create an environment worth living in, Berlin didn’t become Europe’s startup paradise because of tax incentives or business-first slogans, it became Europe’s hotspot because of its human-first approach.

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ABSTRACT; (FOR THE 👉 EXTENDED FULL VERSION 👈 PLEASE CONTINUE READING)

🔴 MALTA CAN MAKE MORE MONEY WITH 1 REMOTE WORKER THAN 70 TOURISTS 🔴

✅ FACT I: “A high-income tech worker from the U.S. or London makes ~€150,000/year. If they’d relocate […] and spend just half of that, that’s €75k/year put into the local economy.”

✅ FACT II: “Malta gets usually 2.8 million visitors per year. We could make the same money with 40,000 to 80.000 remote workers over the course of a single year.”

✅ FACT III: “Malta’s excellent broadband and amazing scenery could make it a magnet for the new breed of ‘digital nomads’.” — Mr. Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech Nation and a former member of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council

✅ FACT IV: “Traditional businesses can profit from the remote work wave too. Especially in the hospitality industry. Instead of nightly stays, hotels are already offering long-term stays.”

✅ FACT V: “The changes necessary are small compared to the opportunities it gives: Create a remote worker visa and position Malta as the #1 Remote Working Location In Europe.”

✅ FACT VI: “Leading Malta into a sustainable future — a whole nation will be prospering from, with orders of magnitude more than the iGaming, Language Schools etc.”

🚀 2020 CHANGED EVERYTHING: “REMOTE WORKERS”, THE NEXT “IGAMING” ON STEROIDS? 🚀

We’re on the verge of the greatest migration in human history. It won’t be digital nomad hippies traveling around the world perpetually, but it will be millions of people relocating semi-permanently to places better fit for their way of living.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

Those millions of highly skilled remote workers are looking for their new (virtual) home country to…

✅ register and operate remote companies
✅ retirement pension funds
✅ personal income tax
✅ health care
✅ education, etc.

JOIN OUR “MALTA DIGITAL NOMAD VISA” TASK FORCE

Let’s bring together different stakeholders, start discussing and come up with actions points which will lead eventually to a sophisticated “Remote Work Visa” legislation:

ABSTRACT END;

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Disclaimer: This opinion piece is a merge of four separate publications forked into one “Impulse Whitepaper”. Not common in journalism, but rather successful in open-source software development.

It’s worth noting that the opinions of each idea contributors don’t need to be necessarily connected, though form a coherent actionable proposal.

We are just connecting dots here, which will lead Malta into a sustainable and prosperous future, most and foremost for its citizens.

Idea contributors:

Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta, 5. December 2020: How Malta Can Fix Its Global Reputation And Rebuild Its Economy
https://lovinmalta.com/opinion/how-malta-can-fix-its-global-reputation-and-rebuild-its-economy/

Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com, World’s Largest Online Community For Remote Workers, 12. November 2020: The future of remote work: how the greatest human migration in history will happen in the next ten years
https://levels.io/the-greatest-migration/

Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation and a former member of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council, 31. August 2020: Gozo: Home for digital nomads?
https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/gozo-home-for-digital-nomads-gerard-grech.815166

Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub, The first decentralized global coliving & coworking community for digital nomads, Founded 2016, Malta https://cocohub.io/

MALTA’S STATUS QUO

“If you think Malta’s dwindling reputation is not going to have an impact on your earnings and Maltese quality of life in the next few years, you’re wrong. But you’d be equally wrong to think you are powerless in all of this or that there are no solutions for the country.

Before we get to the solutions, let’s start by really understanding the problem. For three years our country has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Not just any news, but serious headline news on the world’s biggest newspapers and TV stations.

Blatant government corruption that culminated in the shameful murder of a journalist has not only destroyed the country’s once-good reputation; it has also cemented a terrible image in the eyes of people who had never even heard of Malta before.” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/19/world/europe/malta-murder-daphne-caruana-galizia.html

“The real effect of damage like this can take a while to be felt, and it’s extremely difficult to reverse it. Think about it. Almost overnight, Malta became well-known and synonymous with crime, corruption and sleaze.

It stands to reason that no serious business person or investor would want to associate themselves with us now. And our reputation is likely to get worse. If Malta gets greylisted by FATF and Moneyval, we will take yet another huge dip.” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

HOW COVID-19 DISTRACTED US FROM THE TRUTH

“In fact, Covid may have distracted us from the ugly truth that Malta is probably headed for serious economic trouble that has very little to do with the pandemic. Covid is simply helping us get used to it earlier. But as a vaccine approaches, Malta is likely to continue grappling with the epidemic that is our crumbling reputation.

Even if we stop letting ourselves down and start changing the people and laws that got us into this mess, international investors are not going to quickly change their minds about Malta.

Killing a journalist gives you a New York Times front-page headline. Making small changes in the law to reduce the Prime Minister’s powers, simply does not. So besides fixing our laws to protect us from ourselves, Malta needs to also start thinking proactively about how it is going to gain a new reputation.” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

CASE STUDY: MALTA’S FAILED BLOCKCHAIN INITIATIVE

“We need to think of ideas that can start putting us on the map for the right reasons. And we need these ideas to have an economic dimension with the potential to make up for the damage. With all its flaws, Malta’s Blockchain initiative could serve as an interesting case study.

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BU85o_TAlBr

Beyond the fact that the corrupt government of the day didn’t have the credibility to handle this delicate industry, it’s important to recognise how a tiny island was able to make international headlines quite effectively by opening itself up to an innovate new industry before other countries did.

We were small and nimble enough to position ourselves quickly as the best island for Blockchain — and if we pulled it off, it could have had a great impact on our economy. This is why Blockchain should serve as our clue of what to do next. But we must learn from what went wrong to make sure our next move is more successful.” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

Malta’s primary intention has never been to truly establish a sophisticated blockchain legislation, but rather create another “gatekeeper system” which would have profited just a few particular law firms by selling overpriced licenses to operate questionable blockchain projects.” — (Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub)

“We must find a new initiative that can similarly grab international headlines like Blockchain, but this time not through an industry that raises more suspicions about our integrity” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

“Moreover, we should not make a fool of ourselves by pursuing unrealistic goals, like turning Malta into a hub for climate-change-related innovation or an Artificial Intelligence Hub.

Why? Malta doesn’t feature the needed characteristics nor the track record to tackle such delicate turning points in human history, namely judiciary capacities, human resources nor international credibility in the rule of law.

We should start with being honest to ourselves and take off our ignorant island blinkers — as positive change always starts with self-awareness as well as self-reflection.

This prevalent toxic mindset of entitlement and ignorance seems to be our biggest blocking point, which is a side product of being ruled for centuries by foreign powers as well as highly inflated and non-sustainable economic growth fueled by EU subventions and a hazardous free real estate market.

Right now, it seems to be more realistic to turn Dubai into the next Women Rights Hub.” — (Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub)

But how do we come up with such an idea? The best way is to start with purpose.

2020 CHANGED EVERYTHING: THE START OF THE REMOTE WORK AGE

“In just a few months the number of people working remotely ballooned to ~125 million people in Europe and North America, or over 5 times the amount before the pandemic.

This isn’t new for many of us Digital Nomads. We have been living our lives like this for the last decade or longer. It was people like us who could make money on the internet who were the first to embrace this.

For the last two decades, digital nomads have replaced the routine of office life with travelling to explore the world and then finding better places to live. Optimizing for the weather they like, the cost of living they could afford and where their friends are. Digital nomads were ridiculed as a fringe subculture for years...” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

A group of Digital Nomads working from a cafe in Valletta.

“Remote work has gone mainstream in 2020 and with that location independence suddenly has become a possibility for millions and soon maybe billions for workers.

Most people now are stuck in their home countries due to the pandemic closing borders. But once the pandemic ends or becomes controllable, and people can travel again we will see millions looking for a new temporary home. And I think that’s 2021.

It will be different from how digital nomads did it. Most people working remotely and doing it location independent will NOT be fast travelling from place to place, but instead will relocate longer-term to remote work destinations.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

“REMOT WORKERS”, THE NEXT “IGAMING” ON STEROIDS?

“It cannot be a controversial industry, like selling passports for example. We must ask ourselves, what is our place in the world? What can we contribute? Where are we uniquely positioned to leave an impact? In a nutshell, what is a problem that we can help solve?” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

Perhaps we should start with the biggest shift in work since the Industrial Revolution and the Greatest Human Migration in history:
The Remote Work Age Meets Malta

A Digital Nomad From Poland enjoying her sunny workplace from a restaurant by the sea in Malta.

“As remote work becomes accessible to the global workforce in the next decade, we’ll have far more than the 37 million people who relocated in the Great Atlantic Migration, as they’re not tied to places by office work anymore, making this the greatest migration in human history.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

“For the first time in human history, for millions of people now and hundreds of millions in the next decade life might then stop being primarily about working, and instead be about living.

We’re on the verge of the greatest migration in human history. It won’t be digital nomad hippies travelling around the world perpetually, but it will be millions of people relocating semi-permanently to places better fit for their way of living.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/06/essential-tools-for-todays-digital-nomad/

WHAT REMOTE WORKERS NEED

“One of the primary challenges digital nomads faced was getting kicked out of a country after 30, 60 or 90 days based on their tourist visa. Digital nomads get so much flack for working on tourist visas, usually by people who never did it themselves. If they’d do it themselves, they’d realize getting a longer visa is a monumental pain in most places. “— (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

Those millions of highly skilled remote workers having a high disposable income are actively looking for their new (virtual) home country to pay for their

  • register and operate remote companies
  • retirement pension funds
  • personal income tax
  • health care
  • education, etc.

Furthermore, many of us have friends from everywhere, also related to our interests. For example, I have lots of friends who are online entrepreneurs. None of these people I met in my home country.

The challenge is that the relationships with these people become close to 100% online-only. […] As much as I love that we are in contact daily, I’d love it even more if we’d see each other in real life.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

“Millions of remote workers will be looking for an actual physical attractive home base including access to like-minded folks including leisure activities, now and then for a few months/year” — (Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub)

A community of like-minded IT workers living together in a coliving mansion in San Gwann. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHiwjYgHF3o/

“As millions relocate and work remotely, many will bring their families along. That means there’ll be a need for high-quality schooling from young kids to university students. Lots of places don’t have great schools, though and some countries even prevent you from home / remote schooling. A solution to that I think, which will take time to build (and maybe you can help build it) is having a mix of

  1. centralized high-quality online schooling, executed by an internationally trusted institution like the [University Of Malta]
  2. practical group classes to do the coursework ran by local schools affiliated to and certified by the trusted institution.
Travelling Remote Workers In Ecuador Looking For Suitable Trusted Homeschooling Solutions Worldwide

“Guiding the future education of millions, laying the groundwork by introducing legislative framework which enables high-quality online education in remote places where schools might not be so great, exporting [Malta] as a brand name for the future of education into the world.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

MALTA CAN MAKE MORE MONEY WITH 1 REMOTE WORKER THAN 70 TOURISTS

“An average tourist in Europe goes on a trip for 5.2 nights and spends €70 per day or €356 per trip.

Meanwhile, a high-income tech worker from the U.S. or London makes ~€150,000/year. If they’d relocate […] and spend just half of that, that’s €75k/year put into the local economy. That amount of money can create 3 local jobs at local average wages. Additionally, tax is paid on that income if they relocate.

(Calculation: €70*365.25 days=€25,567/y; 1 trip is 5.2 days; 365.25 days / 5.2 days = 70 tourists/y; 1 remote worker spends 50% of their income = €75,000/y; €75,000/y remote worker income / €25,567/y tourist income ~= 3; 3 * 70 tourists = 210 tourists)

Even if we estimate more conservatively, where a remote worker spends just €25,000/year, that’s still the same amount of money as hosting 70 tourists.— (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

“Malta gets usually 2.8 million visitors per year. We could make the same money with 40,000 to 80.000 remote workers over the course of a single year.

Leading Malta into a sustainable future — a whole nation will be prospering from, with orders of magnitude more than the previous iGaming, Language Schools and the controversial ‘golden passports’ industry — Combined.” — (Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub)

“A remote worker can live more like a local as they stay in the place for months or years renting locally, instead of the short tourist staying in Airbnbs, resulting in less low-quality touristic areas […] long-term remote workers make better visitors economically and behaviorally than short-term tourists.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

A Team of a German E-commerce Software Company spending their “workation” in the Cottonera area, working during the day, enjoying life afterwards. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bjq2lR4AfKN/

ACTION STEP I: MALTA DIGITAL NOMAD REMOTE WORKING VISA

Bali’s governor and Bali’s tourism board, Indonesia’s minister of tourism and even Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo have all spoken out positively about attracting digital nomads and foreign tech workers as a strategy to get more foreign spending and as a transfer of technological skills to locals. Many countries now have programs to attract remote workers: Portugal, Estonia, Bermuda, Barbados and Georgia...

Draft of “Malta Welcome Stamp / Digital Nomad Remote Worker Visa” Website

“The opportunities for cities and countries are big if they can create a process by which they can attract high-skilled high-income remote workers to work in their countries for long-term. High-income so that money flows into their local economies, high-skilled because it’ll mean the transfer of skills to locals is possible.”

International Digital Nomads mingling with locals in Birgu interested in the remote working lifestyle.

“The changes necessary are small compared to the opportunities it gives: create a remote worker visa that can be requested online, assess people’s income, work and skills, and allow at least a 6 month to 1-year stay with an option to extend it to 5 or 10 years, and some route to the traditional permanent residency and after a secondary digital citizenship 2.0.”

Right now work permits are made for foreign people getting a local job offer. Remote workers don’t need a job offer, they already have a remote job or run their own company. All they need is the legal rights to work in your country and be able to stay for the long-term.

The reason for work permits was to avoid the competition of foreigners with the local workforce, but 99% of remote workers don’t even participate in the local market as they work for foreign companies remotely.

“A French Self-Employed Digital Nomad Living Temporary In Malta for One Year”

THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF ATTRACTING REMOTE WORKERS

Launched during the COVID-19 outbreak out of the CoCoHub Digital Nomad Community, Invisible Hands Malta brought together hundreds of volunteers to bring groceries to Malta’s vulnerable and spreading much-needed positivity in times of a global pandemic.

“With free delivery of food and essential supplies to the ones more in need like elderly people, immunocompromised and people in quarantine. We call ourselves invisible because, unfortunately, given what is known about COVID-19, we want to minimize as much direct contact in our deliveries as possible.

In this incredibly isolating time, we’re happy to provide you with a connection and to give something back to the Maltese society, a place which we call our home.”

Source: https://lovinmalta.com/news/news-human-interest/watch-cometh-the-hour-these-180-young-volunteers-are-helping-maltas-vulnerable-in-their-time-of-need/

HOW MALTESE BUSINESSES WILL PROFIT

“Traditional businesses can profit from the remote work wave too. Especially in the hospitality industry. Instead of nightly stays, hotels are already offering long-term stays and considering adapting their rooms with kitchens and offering Airbnb-style suites.

Coworking Spaces Operators, like Businesslabs in Birkirkara, welcomes Digital Nomads.

If they like, coffee places can adapt to become a place where remote workers can do their work and socialize. Related to socializing, local companies that offer activities like sports and trips can target remote workers who are new to a place to quickly immerse themselves.” — (Pieter Levels, Founder Nomadlist.com)

A group of Digital Nomads attending a surfing lesson in Għajn Tuffieħa with a local surf school. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBfrX5NnFRu/

We could give it the Blockchain treatment plus some more perks: fancy coworking office spaces, awesome community-focused accommodations, easy company formation and administration, government backing, nimble legislation, low taxes, access to funding, hackathons, business accelerators, access to the well-recognized healthcare system or even pension funds.

Digital Nomad Meetup held in a former language school in Pembroke, which pivoted towards accommodating remote workers.

“Malta’s excellent broadband and amazing scenery could make it a magnet for the new breed of ‘digital nomads’. These are workers whose skills allow them to base themselves anywhere.

Once their laptop is open, they can log on and deliver their work in minutes from anywhere. So why not from an island in the sun, English-speaking, time-zone efficient, with business-friendly policies and a fabulous way of life?”

— Mr. Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech Nation and a former member of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council

TECH.MAG Issue 2, November 2020 — Created by the Government of Malta and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Source: https://issuu.com/becommunications/docs/be.comm-tech-mag-november

“Beyond the positive headlines, think about how this strategy will help us fix so many other aspects of our country: protecting our natural and built environment, reaching our EU targets, finding solutions for traffic and pollution, and so much more.

Our tourism sector would immediately opt for quality over quantity. And our political sector would finally have a common cause to fight together: fixing Malta’s reputation by sending out positivity instead of negativity.” — (Chris Peregin, CEO Lovin Malta)

A Group Of Digital Nomads Spreading The Positive Message About Malta All Over The World And Promoting It As The Ideal Remote Working Location, Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAW8PD4q7o5/

NO SECOND BLOCKCHAIN EMBARRASSMENT

“We need to understand, that our outdated “shortcut-seeking-nepotism-kickback-gatekeeper-driven” way of approaching business is the single biggest threat to head straight into another blockchain failure, damaging Malta’s reputation even further.

This isn’t another blockchain thingy, where people of power mingle with politicians and a host of law and accounting firms setting up nonsense stripped-off legislations believing they had struck gold only to find out shortly after that there is no shortcut to long-term prosperity.

But this time we need to stand for 100% transparency, making sure Malta will be able to compete on an international level with countries like Estonia, which are clearly focused on providing value-generating offerings.

It isn’t about one political party vs. another one, it isn’t about Maltese Business vs. Maltese Business and it isn’t Maltese against foreigners. We are all in the same boat, this time.

Time to stop enslaving ourselves to an island mentality of nepotism and corruption. Time to stop competing on a macro-level and start competing globally.

Do those values resonate with you? Great. Let’s do this!” — (Daniel Goebel, Founder CoCoHub)

JOIN OUR “MALTA DIGITAL NOMAD VISA” TASK FORCE

Let’s bring together different stakeholders, start discussing and come up with actions points which will lead eventually to a sophisticated “Remote Work Visa” legislation:

CoCoHub started in 2016 here in Malta, intending to put Malta on the world map for digital nomads — which we more than successfully did by welcoming over 500 international remote workers to the Maltese islands in person.

Since 2019 CoCoHub acts as a global community layer for the next billion of remote workers leaving their home countries and becoming global citizens, already launched over a dozen of other CoCoHubs all across the globe, like Mallorca, Egypt, Valencia, Nairobi, Bucharest and India.

We enable individuals to kick-start local communities of location-independent remote workers within their cities. We strongly believe in natural human interactions over real estate investments by creating digital nomad neighbourhoods all around the world, where everyone can join in.

We are the first decentralized Coliving & Coworking Community for Digital Nomads. Join our community of thousands of nomads ✨👨‍💻 ➡️➡️ http://join.cocohub.io