Switzerland’s Federal Council has called for reducing the barriers seen by Fintech firms to enter the country which could see broader implications on the country’s regulatory stance on virtual currencies like bitcoin.
In a meeting today, the Swiss Federal Council instructed the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) to prepare a consultation draft to relax the regulatory framework required for Fintech companies to enter and invest resources in the country.
The Federal Council, a seven-member executive council – essentially the country’s cabinet – outlined its objectives geared to make Switzerland welcome the likes of bitcoin- and blockchain-startups as a part of its wider drive to embrace the Fintech industry, more than it already is.
An excerpt from the public release covering today’s meeting added:
[T]he FDF should conduct additional clarifications in cooperation with the interested authorities on reducing further barriers to market entry for fintech firms, also those outside financial market law (e.g. legal treatment of virtual currencies and assets).
A Fintech License, Among Other Objectives
Under the objectives, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) will flex its authority as the country’s financial regulator.
The highlights of the three-pronged strategy include:
- Setting a 2-month deadline for holding money in settlement accounts which are commonly used by providers of crowdfunding services.
- Creating a “sandbox”, described as ‘an innovation area’ wherein a Fintech firm can accept public funds of up to CHF 1 million (approx. $1.2 million USD) without being monitored by FINMA.
- A new “Fintech licence” will be granted by FINMA.
Speaking at a news conference in Bern, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer added that the draft legislation by the FDF could be sent to parliament by mid-2017, following a public consultation.
In quotes reported by Reuters, Maurer added:
We assume that with the steps we have prepared and the commitment we have to overall financial services industry, we can provide a solution that puts us among the top (countries) in the world that regulate this.
Today’s revelation of a Fintech-friendly stance by the Swiss Government comes within a week of the country’s national railways operator announcing that it would enable customers to buy bitcoin from over a thousand ticketing kiosks, as a part of an experiment over the next two years. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts will also remember Zug, a sleepy lakeside town in Switzerland to accept bitcoin as payment for municipal services – also a part of an experiment with the cryptocurrency.
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