Switzerland continues its ‘Crypto Valley’ strategy

Having lost its unique position as a haven for banking secrecy, Switzerland is rapidly re-inventing itself as a centre of excellence for cryptocurrency/blockchain developments and initiatives.

Of course Ethereum is based in Switzerland but so too are a number of others projects including Shapeshift and Xapo.

On 5 July 2017, the Swiss Federal Council adopted an amendment of the Banking Ordinance. It will enter into force on 1 August 2017. The revision should ensure that barriers to market entry for fintech firms are reduced and that the competitiveness of the Swiss financial centre is enhanced.

The amendment to the Banking Ordinance (BankO) aims to regulate fintech firms which provide services outside normal banking business according to their risk potential. The following simplifications are envisaged:

First, the exception provided for in the Banking Ordinance for the acceptance of funds for settlement purposes will apply explicitly for settlements within 60 days – in accordance with the practice up to now, a period of seven days applies.

Furthermore, an innovation area will be created: the acceptance of public funds up to CHF 1 million will no longer be classified as operating on a commercial basis in the future and will be exempt from authorisation. This change should allow firms to try out a business model before they are finally required to obtain authorisation in the case of public funds of over CHF 1 million. It should also be clearly stated to depositors that their deposits are not protected by deposit protection.

The full press release is here.

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