Business

Steve Kaaru

Lawmakers vote to force Swiss gov’t to adopt crypto regulations

The Swiss lower house of parliament has voted in favor of crypto regulations. The motion aims to instruct the country’s Federal Council to apply existing financial regulations to cryptocurrency. This is a landmark moment for the country, as this could see cryptos finally treated by the law like other financial instruments.

The motion was introduced by Giovanni Merlini, the Member of Parliament for Ticino, an Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland. According to a report by local outlet Netzwoche, the vote was a close call, with 99 members voting to support the motion. 83 members opposed it, with 10 members abstaining from the vote altogether. 

Merlini argued that cryptocurrencies have become important financial instruments which the government can’t ignore. If left unregulated, criminals can use them for money laundering and extortion.

Under the proposed law, companies dealing in crypto could be considered as financial intermediaries by the law. They could thus become regulated by the country’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma).

The motion will now move on to the Council of States, otherwise known as the upper house. If approved, it will push the Federal Council to adopt the crypto regulations. The Federal Council is the seven-member body which serves as the executive head of government in the country.

Swiss Minister of Finance Ueli Maurer, however, isn’t exactly the most supportive of such regulatory action. In December, he made it clear that he is against a law that explicitly focuses on blockchain and crypto. Instead, he proposed that the lawmakers just tweak the existing laws to accommodate the new asset class. Acknowledging the fierce competition for blockchain development in Europe, Maurer said that it didn’t warrant throwing caution out of the window. London, Shanghai and Singapore were some of the cities that he mentioned as Switzerland’s biggest competitors.

Nevertheless, Switzerland has continued to establish itself as one of Europe’s most important crypto and blockchain hubs. As CoinGeek reported on Wednesday, the country’s biggest online retailer is now accepting Bitcoin SV and other cryptos as payment. Last month, the country’s stock exchange also announced that it would be integrating blockchain technology into its operations. 

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