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Monthly Archives

September 2017

CVA Q3 2017 Newsletter – Crypto Valley Association in Orbit

By | Public Announcements

Dear Members and Friends of the CVA,

If the second quarter of 2017 was when we launched, the third quarter was when the CVA reached orbit. Not only has our membership increased almost thirtyfold since March, we also started expanding with our new chapter in Western Switzerland.

Judging by activity and media interest, Crypto Valley and the CVA have become firmly established names in the global blockchain community too. Such visibility is great for us – it is part of our mission to promote our ecosystem.

But visibility is a means, not an end. So while, as you can read in our Q3 2017 quarterly newsletter, Crypto Valley has gained a reputation as a great place to launch a token, our ambition for the ecosystem is about more than just being a hot spot for raising capital. We want to become a location known for generating great ideas, building superior technology, and creating good jobs as well.

With the Swiss Economy Minister, who visited us in August, promoting a similar vision, and such initiatives as next year’s Crypto Valley Conference, or the new Crypto Valley Labs, we think the signs are in our favor in this respect.

This impression is strengthened when we consider such exciting developments as blockchain-based digital identity becoming a reality in Zug, or the success of Swiss-based projects like Melonport or Ambrosus, or note that Swisscom, the country’s largest telco, has started its own blockchain business (and joined our Association). With all this going for it, we think it safe to say that our Valley has and will continue to play an important role in the development of blockchain technology and its broader application.

That’s the kind of visibility we are striving for.

– Vasiliy Suvorov, Vice President, Crypto Valley Association

Read the full Crypto Valley Association Q3 2017 Quarterly Newsletter

Join the CVA and/or subscribe to our newsletters.

Swarm City and the P2P commerce revolution – Special Tuesday at the Crypto Valley Forum

By | Public Announcements

By Fenja Persello.

On Tuesday, September 26, the team from Swarm City came to the Crypto Valley Forum Meetup to explain how and why they want to build a truly global peer-to-peer economy for service providers and consumers. They are developing a blockchain technology based commerce platform for humans to transact, create and share value without a middleman on a global scale. They also shared how their learnings and efforts help in further developing the Ethereum system infrastructure.

Why a decentralized peer-to-peer commerce platform?

In a physical store a transaction is quite transparent: a potential customer can test a product for its quality and settle a price with the vendor. Over the last decades, peer-to-peer commerce has become more international and trading parties are spread all over the globe. To facilitate the required level of trust, intermediaries provide platforms to ensure a trade in which expectations of buyer and seller are met. However, these intermediaries charge fees for their administration. The Swarm City team recognized the potential of blockchain technology to build an infrastructure where buyers and sellers can connect directly and trade securely. The core technical offering is a decentralized app running on Ethereum, directed by smart contracts. This new way of exchanging goods and services should result in higher value for both parties due to lower transaction cost, healthier competition and more individualized services. For more info, find an explanatory video here.

In October 2016, the team conceptualized in The Arcade City whitepaper how they want to establish a platform operated with Ethereum smart contracts that would facilitate decentralized commerce. The platform should provide the functionality for parties to communicate and transact in an intuitive and secure way. With their first two releases, Swarm City enabled their users to set up a profile, create a wallet to trade Swarm City Tokens (SWT) and join marketplaces organized by hashtags. Pioneer users are now testing and exchanging services and goods, building their personal credibility on the system, which is measured by the number of successful transactions related to a specific (marketplace) hashtag. The third release of Swarm City on the roadmap is called “Storefront” which will introduce context-dependent Graphic User Interfaces. Ultimately, the presenters leaked, in future users should have the choice to group together to offer services in so-called hives. Find more info about their development roadmap here.

But as with all platforms, attracting users to create and exchange value is key. Hear from Bernd in this video how Swarm City encourages buyers and sellers to join a market place.

How Swarm City contributes to the Ethereum infrastructure

Stefan from Swarm City explained that the team realized that they were facing challenges that many Ethereum app developers shared. Complying with strict peer-to-peer logic, the team decided that they want to open source their solutions to some of the roadblocks. One is a faucet for testnet Ether, where a smart contract sends Ethereum test tokens that don’t contain value to your account. Having a first number of testnet Ether in your account, you comply with the basic logic of blockchain’s transactional conditions and can start using a testnet. A second is called IPFS consortium, a project that provides decentralized storage for data to run an app on Ethereum. Swarm City even designed an easy-to-build hardware component to encourage more people to join the consortium, contributing an additional node. Lastly, they presented Gas Station. This project solves the chicken-and-egg problem that new users may face when they join a new app run on the Ethereum blockchain: To transact using an application’s token run on the Ethereum blockchain (e.g. SWT) a fee must be paid in Ether (ETH), but what if you don’t own any ETH but you want to transact in SWT? For this case, the team set up an ETH lending system for the initial transaction of SWT. With this solution, you can borrow some ETH to run a first SWT transaction, given you meet several conditions that prevent fraud.

Crypto Valley Association members called to action

Bernd and Michael from Swarm City encouraged the CVA crowd present at the event to get involved: Developers to contribute to their next release, testers to join the pioneers on Swarm City, business folks to start thinking in hashtags and ultimately, fans to spread the word and start holding SWT. The extensive Q&A session clearly reflected the CVA member’s interest in Swarm City’s new approach to peer-to-peer commerce. Or as Kiki and Michael from Swarm City experienced it: “We were really impressed by how open-minded and eager the crowd was to wrap their heads around a new logic decentralized commerce.”

More info:

– On the event: meetup
– On Swarm City website
– Extensive Swarm City FAQ on Github

CVA welcomes new FINMA guidance on regulatory treatment of ICOs

By | Public Announcements

Today FINMA, the Swiss regulator, released new guidance on the regulatory treatment of initial coin offerings (ICOs). It also said it is “investigating a number of ICO cases to determine whether regulatory provisions have been breached.”

The CVA fully supports this development. As we have previously stated, while we believe the ICO represents a potentially positive innovation for capital markets, we support ICO regulation for the good of both investors and the blockchain community.

Reacting to today’s FINMA announcement, Oliver Bussmann, President of the CVA, said:

“The Crypto Valley Association welcomes FINMA’s statement and position on Initial Coin Offerings. With a strong need for regulation around ICOs, this announcement does not come as a surprise to us. Earlier in September, we announced that the CVA is working on an ICO Code of Conduct, a framework designed to bring clarity and confidence towards this new, rapidly-growing asset class. FINMA clearly states that while it supports the innovative potential of blockchain technology, regulation must still apply, another sign of the Swiss regulator’s clear and balanced approach to blockchain and Fintech.”

ICO Summit draws interest from far and near

By | Public Announcements

by Ian Simpson.

“And I see that hope coming.”

With this one phrase, William Mougayar, General Partner at Virtual Capital Ventures and keynote speaker  at the recent ICO Summit in Switzerland addressed the expectations (and perhaps fears) of most of the 400+ attendees gathered in Zurich’s Aura Club.

His speech – focused on blockchain token generation among other subjects – brought out the great potential for the ICO space and the expectation that new regulations – if and when they come – will recognize tokens as a new asset class, unbound by strict definitions of the past.

The theme of hope – mixed with excitement – was prevelant throughout the day-long event organized by Smart Valor (a Crypto Valley Association member) and its CEO, Olga Feldmeier. The buzz generated by the presence of the likes of Mougayar, Jamie Burke (Outlier Ventures), Richard Kastelein (Cryptoassets Design Group) and others was distinctly palatable. Outside the main hall, attendees pressed through the throng in a narrow foyer area as they attempted to network and visit the handfull of booths set up by startups looking for extra attention.

More than anything, the ICO Summit reflected the general state of crypto and blockchain – pioneers, starry-eyed idealists, hard-core techies and opportunistic adventurers all thrown in together to explore an amazing phenomenon and its possibilities.

The more than 30 startups who took a stab at pitching their ideas before the audience on two separate stages also offered an excellent sampling of the great potential for innovation. Two highlights were RecordGram – a music sharing solution and Etherisc – building decentralized insurance – both of whom captured considerable audience attention.

Top startup teams from the ICO Summit, including CVA member Etherisc (Renat Khasanshyn & Stephan Karpischek (4th & 5th from left).

Was the ICO Summit a pivotal moment in the history of cryptocurrencies? Maybe not.

But it certainly underscored the huge popularity of the ICO phenomenon and the popularity of Switzerland as a top destination for startups looking to raise funds with token generating events.

A wide range of leading figures discussing ICO Best Practices.

Some were (rightfully) quick to point out Switzerland’s responsibility to lead the way in promoting standards and best practices on the ICO front. Said Arie Levy Cohen, President of Blockhaus – “There is something arising from this, a set of standards and a language being written and created that can give Switzerland a chance to lead.”

This is an opinion that everyone in the Crypto Valley Community can and should support.

Information can be found on the ICO Summit website and YouTube

CVA member Wenger & Vieli publishes Swiss Law Perspective on token launches

By | Member News

With the recent rush to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or Token Generating Events (TGEs), questions have arisen about compliance with existing capital market regulations. Are they, in fact, new ways for start-ups to more easily raise funds or are they newfangled ways to avoid the existing regulatory burden hiding behind crypto’s shiny new cloak?

CVA member firm Wenger & Vieli recently published a note with their view on the Swiss perspective. In it, the law firm concludes:

“ICO/TGE is a new form of contributing to or investing in start-ups. Due to the diversity of Tokens, general qualifications cannot be made and each Token has to be assessed on an individual basis.”

For more, see the Wenger & Vieli Spotlight newsletter.

As announced in the CVA’s statement on token launches, the CVA is in the process of developing a TGE code of conduct with input from experts and the community.

CVA token launch statement in the press

By | Public Announcements

Last Thursday the Crypto Valley Association released a statement on token launches and also announced that it was developing a token launch Code of Conduct in conjunction with leading experts.

Considering the amount of attention that token launches, also known as token generating events (TGEs) or, more commonly, ICOs, have been getting, it was no surprise that the announcement garnered widespread coverage in the industry press. Notices ran in Coinspeaker, Bitcoin News and CoinTelegraph, among others.

Mainstream interest

The strong growth in TGE volumes, and the increased regulatory scrutiny, has however made this a topic in the mainstream media as well.

On the day of the release of the CVA statement, the Financial News ran an in-depth article featuring CVA President Oliver Bussmann. Among other things it quoted Bussmann as saying the “worst case scenario would be that regulation could shut down the whole ICO industry” and that it “is our mission to educate and provide a reliable framework for ICOs.” The article concluded:

“The code of conduct being drawn up by the Crypto Valley Association will allow companies looking to raise money using cryptocurrencies to gain “a trusted level of certification”. Companies that sign up to it will need to have credible business models and conduct proper background checks on their customers and counterparties.”

Token launch regulation around the globe was also a topic for The Guardian and Reuters, which both recently posted articles with quotes from CVA President Bussmann.

On September 7, Swissinfo ran an excellent in-depth piece on cryptocurrency projects, token launches and Swiss-based foundations. It featured quotes from both Bussmann and David Siegel, founder of CVA member 20/30, one of whose projects, Pillar, recently raised over USD 20 million in a TGE.

Crypto Valley Association Comes Out in Support for Careful ICO Regulation; Announces ICO Code of Conduct

By | Public Announcements

Zug, Switzerland, September 7, 2017 — Crypto Valley Association (CVA), the Swiss-based not-for-profit association supporting the development of blockchain and cryptographic related technologies and businesses, today announced support for careful regulation and best practices for Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). The announcement describes the development of an official, CVA-supported ICO Code of Conduct, a framework designed to guide ICOs on proper conduct, taking into account all legal, moral, and security obligations. The ICO Code of Conduct is expected to bring clarity and confidence towards a new, rapidly-growing asset class.

Oliver Bussmann, President of Crypto Valley Association said: “With the explosion of innovation surrounding blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, it is unsurprising that organizations are leveraging similarly innovative financial instruments to raise capital. Thanks to their simplicity and popularity, the number of token launches has increased rapidly in recent months, with over $1.6 billion USD raised in 2017 alone.”

“However, this growth in popularity has caught the attention of regulators worldwide, who wish to protect participants by clarifying the exact function and legal and tax status of the tokens. In addition, investors are often unaware of the true nature of their investment, and the documentation published to accompany token launches often minimizes or ignores the associated risk,” added Bussmann.

Headquartered in the Swiss canton of Zug, Crypto Valley Association is the independent, government-supported association established to take full advantage of Switzerland’s strengths to build the world’s leading blockchain and cryptographic ecosystem, working with government to foster the development of pioneering digital technologies in Switzerland and internationally. To date, four of the five largest token sales recorded have been completed by companies based here in Switzerland, attracting combined investment in bitcoin and ether of over $600 million USD.

“The Crypto Valley Association fully supports innovation in the blockchain space. We believe that token sales represent an exciting, sound and innovative approach to raising investment capital. Therefore, we believe Switzerland should support this trend by developing clear, comprehensible, yet flexible regulation that clarifies the legal status of ICOs and the tokens generated,” added Bussmann.

In the statement published today, CVA announced the development of an ICO Code of Conduct, aimed at providing companies with a framework outlining their legal and moral obligations, providing ICO participants with a thorough understanding of the risks involved.

“The rapid development of token launches has raised concerns around stability and security, and as a leader in this field, it’s our responsibility to support the industry. The widespread adoption of this framework, combined with careful supportive regulation would bring stability to an exciting but uncertain trend in blockchain,” concluded Bussmann.

The ICO Code of Conduct is being drafted by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in legal, tax, accounting, cybersecurity, and communications, among other disciplines. From an initial tally of 12 at launch, the Crypto Valley Association now counts over 220 corporate and individual members. Prominent new joiners include Swisscom Blockchain (a newly founded company of Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telco), SUVA (the Swiss national accident insurance fund), as well as Alpere, Blockhaus, Deon Digital and SingularDTV.