Schneider-Ammann: Switzerland Needs More Blockchain Expertsby Fintechnews Switzerland July 9, 2018
Although Switzerland has successfully pioneered the development of cryptocurrency in its economy, it may have yet to realise the full economic potential of new technologies in the field.
The Crypto Valley Conference held in Zug in June represented one of wider attempts by the ecosystem to gather all stakeholders for a discourse on new developments.
Zug, which currently counts the Ethereum Foundation, Shapeshift, Melonport and Tezos, among the crypto firms headquartered there has long been considered a comfortable hub for new cryptocurrency firms to grow up in.
Switzerland’s low tax rates and flexible regulatory frameworks generally present the lax environment for cryptocurrency firms to thrive. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) made existing financial market regulation applicable to ICOs in just February of this year.
ICOs are in fact regulated differently according to whether they form payment tokens, utility tokens or asset tokens. Whereas payment tokens are subjected to existing anti-money laundering laws, utility tokens, which are classified as tokens to provide access to applications or services, continue to remain unregulated unless they also include an investment function.
On the other hand, asset tokens, which are akin in nature to more conventional asset forms, fall under securities regulation.
Regulators want to be encouraging of ICOs, but they are also wary of creating unnecessary loopholes that could threaten the integrity of existing financial markets.
For now, there is a Blockchain Task Force in place. It essentially works with the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters to look at the legal guidelines surrounding such blockchain and ICO firms.
216 Million CHF for Digitalisation
If Switzerland aims to keep up with similarly competitive crypto environments like Singapore and Malta it will need to remain conducive. The Swiss Banking Association (SBA)’s recent establishment of a working group to assist new blockchain companies with opening bank accounts locally is to be lauded.
As Swiss Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann says, the future would require further tech talent and education to play a role. He noted, during the Crypto Valley Conference that:
“For that we need to put even greater emphasis on digitalisation and technology in schools. We need more IT specialists (not to mention Blockchain experts.”
“We need more research projects and professorships in this field. We are working on that, step by step. The funding released by the Federal Council of 216 million CHF for the action plan on digitalisation in education, research and innovation 2019-2020 is only the start,” he added.