Business 27 June 2018

Cecille de Jesus

Switzerland forms task force to help banks accommodate blockchain companies

Zug financial director wants to make sure Switzerland doesn’t lose the blockchain companies that have set up shop in the country—so he wants to make it easy for them to set up bank accounts.

Early this month, Swiss bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg opened up its doors to blockchain and cryptocurrency companies, allowing them to open corporate bank accounts with them. This was a first in the country, and uncommon globally—banks all over the world have varying stances when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Some hold their reservations due to uncertainty, others are absolutely banned by their central banks from engaging with any crypto-related activities at all. While others still try to make things hard for blockchain companies and even individuals despite the go-signal from regulators, pushing courts to intervene and force banks to treat them fairly.

And now, Switzerland is taking things further: the Swiss Financial Director of Zug, Heinz Tännler, has commissioned the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) to form a task force dedicated specifically for assisting blockchain companies in opening up bank accounts, and give banks the support they need to accommodate these companies.

Switzerland has been establishing itself as a “Crypto Nation,” but problems have been rising due to difficulties blockchain companies face, particularly in finding a bank willing to do business with them. Despite the government’s support of the new technology, the requirements and efforts banks have to endure to ensure regulations are being met is quite high due to the ability of cryptocurrencies to cross borders so seamlessly. And the current financial market regulation has yet to fully catch up with blockchain activities.

Tännler wants to make sure the blockchain companies that have set up shop in the crypto-friendly country will not be moving out because of these difficulties.

“It must not be that Switzerland loses an innovative industry because it makes payment transactions impossible,” Tännler said.

To keep blockchain companies in the country, Federal Council Ueli Maurer gathered representatives from the Swiss National Bank (SNB), the State Secretariat for International Financial Affairs (SIF), the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), the SBA, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, and the cantons of Zurich and Zug. A task force has been formed to assist banks and make recommendations on how they can safely deal with blockchain companies. The recommendations are set to be consolidated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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