Switzerland – a European country that has built its own crypto valley
Today Europe is the “world’s most progressive in embracing [blockchain] technology”, according to the article written for Bitcoinmagazine by David Henderson, Founder of the Sweetbridge foundation.
Indeed, despite the imperfection of regulation and statements of officials regarding the risks of ICOs and cryptocurrencies, Europe makes a significant contribution to the development of blockchain technologies. Several countries including Switzerland, the country with its own crypto valley and a number of interesting govtech solutions based on blockchain, are in the forefront of the industry.
Blockchain, ICO, and Bitcoin in the European Union
Several European countries are implementing blockchain national strategies today: Malta, Slovenia, Estonia announced such initiatives in 2017. There are also international projects related to the technology, for instance, the project of the identity system for refugees based on the distributed ledger. Many members of the blockchain consortiums R3 and Hyperledger are also European companies.
Young European blockchain companies also have opportunities to enter the international market: despite the regulator’s statement about the risks of ICO, investors show high activity level in the region. Late 2017, Reuters published an article saying that approximately a half of funds raised through ICOs since 2014 belong to European startups. Young companies are supported not only by private sources: in September of 2017, the EU invested more than €5.47 million in decentralized products through the Horizon 2020 program.
Among European startups with a big future predicted by analysts and investors are Storj Labs (blockchain-based cloud storage systems), Cambridge Blockchain (identification system for financial institutions), Safello (Bitcoin exchange). Europe offers several most attractive jurisdictions for cryptocurrency and blockchain companies such as Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia, and Switzerland.
The attitude to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the EU can be referred to as a ‘mild interest’. They are acknowledged a payment means at the legislative level, but have not been equaled with fiat money. Some European companies such as Takeaway.com accept Bitcoin. The EU countries do not feature trends to ban cryptocurrency, but the Interpol keeps an eye on it and regularly reminds about the involvement of digital money in illicit activities.
Switzerland – a pioneer of financial technologies
The Western European country, which borders on Germany and Italy, is known for the world’s largest banking system. Swiss banks are a synonym to stability and safeness; their traditions go back to the Middle Ages.
Developed banking system has become one of the reasons why Switzerland has shown high interest in financial technologies based on blockchain. The country offers huge opportunities for learning and testing of new technologies, striving to stay on the forefront, so it pays heightened attention to all latest developments in banking.
Crypto valley in the country’s east
Today Switzerland has its own crypto valley – the town of Zug. A functional blockchain ecosystem has been created in this small town located in the east of the country, in the canton of the same name. Ethereum Foundation, Monetas, Lykke, and dozens of other blockchain projects are based here. You can pay for goods and services in Bitcoin here and easily exchange it for fiat money. In spring of 2018, the government of the town plans to launch a blockchain-based voting system.
The crypto valley in Zug was founded by several large organizations working in the fields of education, finance, and IT development, supported by the government of the town and canton. Today the town is famous for many IT startups, several business accelerators, and HSLU-I university that trains blockchain specialists. Blockchain is deployed for town administration and identity services.
Other regions and application areas
Other cantons are ready to adopt the best practices of Zug, namely Schaffhausen and Uri have already stated such an intention. In early 2017, startup Procivis announced the pilot version of the blockchain-based e-government app store that will provide the Swiss with the access to all e-government services via smartphones. Users will be able to file tax declarations, run land registries, vote.
Several more blockchain projects function in various fields at the state level, for example, a platform for OTC securities trading launched by the consortium of the Swiss exchange and Zurcher Kantonalbank. The largest Swiss financial infrastructure supplier SIX Securities has also started a blockchain platform for buying and selling of securities.
The report provided by PwC says that 75% of Swiss companies plan to integrate decentralized technologies in their business in the next three years.
At Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Switzerland that will take place in Geneva on February 21, experts and entrepreneurs will discuss the most promising industries to implement blockchain as well as a number of other topics related to the legislation, investments, and developments in the field of blockchain.