Fintech-friendly Switzerland sees the launch of a new non-profit blockchain advocacy and development group with the launch of the Crypto Valley Association, backed by the government.
Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland’s ‘Crypto-Valley’ that is home to a number of bitcoin and blockchain startups, the new association will set out to support “the development of blockchain and cryptographic related technologies and business”.
Launched this week, the association will also support industry startups and establish companies through policy recommendations, organizing conferences and hackathons, enabling researching programs and more.
Founding members include venture capital and private equity firms, media houses, IT firms, universities and startups from the industry. They include the likes of consulting and accounting giant PwC, UBS, Thomson Reuters, ConsenSys and the Lucerne University, among others.
In statements, Oliver Bussman, President of Crypto Valley stated:
Blockchain and cryptographic related technologies and businesses are the wave of the future. With the founding of Crypto Valley Association, we are promoting more than a region: we have founded a global association as a base for the sector’s most innovative and forward thinking companies, further strengthening Switzerland’s position as a leading center of innovation in this sector.
A Bitcoin and Blockchain Haven
Switzerland is proving attractive for companies in the bitcoin- and blockchain-industry, due to a favorable regulatory environment put in place by the country’s financial regulator. Reducing the barriers and requirements for Fintech firms, has seen the likes of Xapo, a bitcoin startup, gain “conditional approval” by the authority to operate in the country after regulatory moves in the bitcoin sector were first revealed in November 2016. As a result, Xapo has now relocated its global headquarters from San Francisco to the town of Zug.
Zug made global headlines last year after announcing a 6-month bitcoin pilot program in May. The town’s council voted to accept bitcoin payments for municipality services. “With Bitcoin, we’re sending a message” Zug’s mayor said at the time. Such was the publicity that followed that Zug’s council voted to continue allowing bitcoin payments after the end of the pilot program.
The Swiss authorities’ Fintech-friendly agenda has resulted in wider exposure and adoption of Fintech innovations and, in particular, bitcoin. Notable examples include the operator of Switzerland’s national railway service initiate a two-year pilot project that sell bitcoin from over a thousand ticketing kiosks last year. Ernst & Young (EY) Switzerland began accepting bitcoin as payment for services rendered to clients.
The launch of the Crypto Valley Association was all but an inevitability as Switzerland looks to gain a lead in the global Fintech race of rampant blockchain research and development.
“The formation of Crypto Valley Association has already engaged local government, startups, venture capital and larger corporations,” stated David Craig, President of Financial & Risk Businesses at Thomson Reuters. “This gives us access to a pipeline of interesting startups, talent and an opportunity to participate directly in initiatives driving the technology.”
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