Swiss gov’t wants to remove barriers to blockchain development

The Swiss government will lay plans before parliament that would remove the barriers to blockchain development, in a bid to improve research and development around blockchain technology in the country.

At a meeting on November 27, the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive arm of government, adopted proposals designed to improve the legal framework around blockchain technology, as part of an attempt to increase “legal certainty, removing barriers for applications based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and reducing the risk of abuse.”

The new legislation would introduce a raft of amendments to existing legislation, affecting as many as nine different statutes across financial markets and civil law, in order to take account of the specific legal needs of developing use cases for blockchain.

Switzerland has already emerged as a global center for blockchain development, most notable the Zug region, which is home to a blossoming blockchain sector. Facebook’s Libra is amongst those companies constituted in the country, reportedly choosing Switzerland for its developed legal infrastructure around cryptocurrency and DLT.

To date, the government has chosen to regulate the crypto and blockchain sectors through amending existing financial and securities laws.

In 2018, the Federal Council introduced its new fintech license, with specific limited requirements for crypto businesses to encourage innovation.

Regulated by the Swiss financial regulator FINMA, the licensing requirements are relaxed for crypto companies, in a move designed to give regulatory freedom to those developing blockchain applications.

The government said it views the current legal framework as well-suited to the sector. However, it highlights areas in which the law can still be improved, to encourage more development activity to take place in the country.

The Federal Council opened its proposals to consultation back in March. After considering as many as 80 public submissions, the Council revised the proposals, which have now been officially adopted ahead of the forthcoming legislation.

The resulting legislation is expected to be laid before the Swiss parliament for consideration in early 2020. Should the measures pass the legislative process, the revised framework is expected to become law later in the year.

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