Switzerland at the Epicentre of Digital Currency Revolution
Switzerland has always been one of the most welcoming countries to any changes in the economic world.
In February this year, Swiss laid down the foundation for cryptocurrency project and the Swiss regulatory authority (FINMA) rolled out the ICO guidelines. Switzerland has turned into a worldwide centre for digital or cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology, with the financial investors gathering to get it on the virtual action.
Switzerland’s has been the pioneer in setting up bitcoin ATMs, four years back in it’s biggest city, Zurich. Since 2016 the Swiss national rail company provided options of purchasing the cryptocurrency at over 1,000 distributors in the country. Only a half-hour drive from Zurich is a small town of Zug, famous for its business-friendly taxation schemes. This has made the town a global economic hub and is home to a huge number of organisation, including large investment firms, pharmaceutical companies and commodity trading groups.
Yet for the past few years, a new kind of organisation has plunged on the town, which in high-tech circles has been named “Crypto Valley”.
‘Crypto Valley’ is the name of an association set up in Zug in 2013 with a specific aim of attracting start-up dallying in digital currency technologies, creation and trading to the town. According to FINMA, Out of the world’s six biggest Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), four occurred in Switzerland.
Zug is right now home to somewhere around 200 Blockchain organisation including the foundation behind Ethereum, the second biggest digital currency after bitcoin.
A blockchain is a digital ledger that keeps track of information about a transaction associating multiple parties. The ledger is decentralized and immutable. No one member can see all the information in the chain, nor they can change or delete data in the ledger. Blockchains setup a permanent and secure audit trail of all events, making it safer for participants to use the internet to conduct business.
Zug since 2016 has also accepted bitcoin payments for council services.
The southern Italian-speaking Swiss town of Chiasso, which is endeavouring to contend with Zug as a “CryptoPolis”, has in the meantime chose to acknowledge bitcoin payments for some taxes.
Another Big ICO project based out of Swiss, BitNautic.io, is a decentralized shipping platform. The project is fully compliant with the FINMA guidelines for the ICO and seems to be another big successful ICO from Swiss. BitNautic office is in Lugano, another city about 3 hours away from Zurich. BitNautic already became a member of CryptoPolis Association to receive the unique benefits, participate in the community, and to help build the world’s best ecosystem for crypto technologies and businesses.
Money laundering fears FINMA last month announced guidelines detailing the regulatory requirements for such fundraising schemes after faced with a “sharp increase” in the number of ICOs.
The Regulator said:
“Creating transparency at this time is important given the dynamic market and the high level of demand.”
Some Swiss banks were among the first to jump into the digital currency pool. Switzerland’s acclaimed banking sector has been partitioned despite the surge of new virtual currency on the markets. It cautioned that it was specifically vital to ensure against illegal money laundering since the danger was high “in a decentralised blockchain-based system, in which assets can be transferred anonymously and without any regulated intermediaries.”
Vontobel, for example, made the first structured bitcoin product, a tracker which enables for investment in shifting values of digital currency without buying the coins specifically.
Switzerland’s two biggest banks UBS and Credit Suisse have however so far stayed away from the crypto inflation. Falcon Private Bank has in the meantime offered asset management services for a range of digital currencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, while financial and trading services group Swissquote offers to exchange in five digital currencies.
Recently UBS chairman Axel Weber, a former head of the German central bank, cautioned of significant “design flaws” in digital currencies like bitcoin. UBS has chosen to caution customers against investing in cryptocurrencies, he stated, because the bank does “not consider it valuable and not sustainable”.
Recently, FINMA also announced that it is going to judge the past ICOs after its February guidelines.