Switzerland is not only about cheese, chocolate, watches and the strongest army in Europe. It is also a very fruitful place for money – both fiat and digital. Immediately after the Ethereum ICO, Switzerland has become the best place in the world for cryptocurrency business and blockchain technology.
According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the total amount of all investments in ICO industry for the first 6 months of 2017 exceeded $ 1 billion. One third of this amount ($ 370 million) was raised by the Swiss companies. Such popularity is promoted by progressive legislation, relatively low tax rates, developed banking infrastructure, high level of confidentiality and, finally, the status of the pioneer country, which is flexible about cryptocurrency legislation.
Crypto Valley Association
The so-called Crypto Valley Association is located in Zug. This is an organization which main goal is to build the world’s best ecosystem for the blockchain development and other related technologies.
Crypto Valley Association unites hundreds of startups, including Ethereum, ShapeShift, Xapo, Status, Cosmos Network and many others. Tezos Foundation was also registered in Zug, which collected a record $ 232 million during the ICO as of August 2017.
Canton itself is traditionally considered as one of the best places for cryptocurrency business due to its friendly regulatory environment and the policy of attracting technological startups for doing business. True, the process of registering a company in the canton is time-consuming and expensive.
Legal Regulation of Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are treated in Switzerland as assets in accordance with the report of the Federal Council of Switzerland (paragraph 2.2.1), and therefore they are neither securities nor financial contracts, i.e. derivatives (futures, options, etc.) nor property rights. Cryptocurrency activities are also regulated by the provisions of the Swiss Criminal Code (“SCC”), for example, for money laundering using cryptocurrency, the person is liable in accordance with SCC Article 305bis.
At the moment, the Swiss Federal Council is taking steps to develop the legal status of the cryptocurrencies and rules for the regulation of this industry in the country.
The Swiss cantons also actively integrate cryptocurrencies into people’s daily lives.For example, it is possible to pay utility and other services with the help of Bitcoin.
Legal regulation of tokens and ICO
Cryptographic tokens can be:
- Securities in the presence of relevant features, such as the provision of a share in the company’s profits, the right to profit in general, the right to vote, etc.
- Assets, if the tokens do not fall under the definition of securities.
Switzerland does not establish special rules for holding a token, although it requires adherence to the provisions of the legislation in the field of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism (KYC / AML Policy).
On February 16, 2018, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued recommendations on the ICOs. The regulator broke all the tomsails into three main categories:
Payment ICO (referring to ICO, within the framework of which tokens are implemented, which will act as a means of payment on a certain platform).
Utility ICO (utility tokens).
Asset ICO (asset tokens).
Tokens sold under the Payment ICO can be transferred and act as a payment facility. Their sale should be conducted under the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), but they are not considered securities. Under them, as a rule, are the usual cryptocurrencies.
Tokens sold within the Utility ICO do not qualify as securities unless their sole purpose is to provide digital access rights to an application or service.
Tokens sold under Asset ICO are treated as shares or bonds if, for example, tokens are paid as dividends, percentages or tokens give rights to receive part of the profit. Such ICOs are conducted within the strict requirements of the legislation in the sphere of securities and the stock market.