Q1 2018 Newsletter: 23 April, 2018

News from the Valley

Message from the Board
Playing by the rules

If there was one theme that dominated the crypto world in Q1 it was ICO regulation.

This was certainly the case in Switzerland, where in February FINMA released its ICO guidelines, garnering a great deal of interest both domestically and in the global blockchain community. 

At the CVA, one of our main responsibilities is to represent our members and the nascent blockchain industry in Switzerland in the regulatory and policy debate, and so it’s no wonder that we have been very active in the ICO area too.

As you can read below, in January, we released our ICO Code of Conduct. We also partnered with FINMA to organize and carry out a series of roundtables in Zug, Geneva and Lugano to explain the guidelines to the public, and collect feedback. 

We are involved in the policy discussion in other ways too. We take part in the Swiss government‘s Fintech Roundtables. We are also a member of the Swiss Finance Ministry’s Blockchain Task Force. Participation in these and other forums allows us to add our perspectives and insights as we work to educate policy makers and support regulation that both protects consumers and fosters innovation. 

Both of these goals are extremely important to our community.

We believe for example that the ICO will over time go mainstream to become an innovative and important way for companies to raise capital. Regulation will of course play a central role in this development.

Nor is it just ICOs. Our long-term goal at the CVA is to support a sustainable and successful blockchain industry in Switzerland, one that creates jobs and contributes to economic growth. Clearly legal and regulatory issues will play an important role in the broader industry too. (To get a flavor of what that means, just consider the thorny issues around how blockchain technology can be reconciled with GDPR in Europe.)

We will therefore continue to take part in the regulatory and policy discussion on all levels, and do our best shape the debate to the benefit of our members, our growing industry but also the users and consumers of this new technology we are building.

We encourage all members to stay on top of the issues, and where possible, join the debate too.

René Hüsler, Member of the Board, Secretary & Treasurer, Crypto Valley Association

CVA issues ICO Code of Conduct
In early January, the CVA released its Code of Conduct. The three-part document contained the Association’s Visions and Values statement as well as a Code of Conduct for CVA members. It was Part 3, however – the CVA’s Code of Conduct for ICOs – that attracted most interest. Announced last September as a project run under the aegis of the Regulatory and Policy working group, the code sets out a number of best practices when running an ICO, and is meant as a tool to support self-regulation in the industry. More in the press release

Guiding light
CVA responds to FINMA guidelines
ICOs have been on the agenda of FINMA, the Swiss regulator, as well. In February, it released its ICO guidelines to clarify how it intends to apply financial market legislation in handling enquiries from ICO organisers. As we wrote at the time, the “move by FINMA confirms a regulatory approach to ICOs in Switzerland which is directionally predictable, pragmatic, supportive and risk-aware.” We also said we would support members in implementing the guidelines and actively work with the CVA community to collect feedback on the FINMA initiative. As you can read directly below, we were as good as our word.

Chiming in
CVA co-organizes FINMA ICO Roundtables
At the CVA we have been keen to support FINMA in collecting community feedback to its ICO guidelines. To this end we teamed up with the regulator on three ICO Guidelines roundtables, one each in Zug, Lugano and Geneva. At the events FINMA presented the new guidelines, and then fielded questions from the audience as well as some that were submitted online. Interest was high, with all roundtables sold out. The slide deck used at the events is available the CVA library.

The big debate
Members contribute to ICO debate
The ICO debate is of course not just for governments and associations. Our members had plenty to say about developments as well. We carried some of it on our blog, including opinion from Melonport CEO Mona El Isa, Regulatory and Policy Working Group Chair Mattia Rattaggi, and Pillar CEO David Siegel. Thought provoking reading.

Taken to task
Swiss Blockchain Taskforce
On January 12, the Swiss Blockchain Task Force, an initiative organized among others by CVA member Lakeside Partners, met for the first time, with CVA Vice President Vasiliy Suvorov representing the Association. As subsequently reported to the CVA Board (link only available to members signed into the site), at the meeting we among other things took on the responsibility of generating a map of token types that can be used by other working groups in the Taskforce. To assist that, we will be enhancing the profile form so that CVA members can allocate themselves to the various recognized token types. The CVA will continue to take part in the Taskforce meetings throughout the year. 

Just the facts
PwC collaborates with CVA on quarterly ICO report
Strategy&, PwC’s strategy and consulting division, collaborated with us on a Swiss version of their new quarterly report on ICOs. The report offers a comprehensive overview of ICO activity globally and in Crypto Valley, as well as insight into emerging regulatory developments and a look at what the future holds for this space. More background available in the press release. The report itself can be viewed here.

Swiss FinTech Awards Night 2018 on Thursday (15.03.18) in Hotel Dolder in Zurich. Photo: Markus Forte

The prides of March

We are Fintech Influencer of the Year!
The Ides of March (otherwise known as March 15) may have meant bad news to Julius Caesar, but they brought excellent omens for the CVA: that was when it was announced that when our organization had been named “Fintech Influencer of the Year” at the Swiss Fintech Awards. “This is great recognition of the hard work our team and community have put in,” said CVA President Oliver Bussmann. More here.

Meet the boss
Kevin Lally named Executive Manager
On February 1 we announced that we had named Kevin Lally to the newly created post of Executive Manager of the CVA. In this full time role, Lally will oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization as it professionalizes after its period of explosive growth during 2017. The Irish native, who is permanently resident in Switzerland, brings a strong background in computer sciences and business management to the CVA, as well as a strong interest in crypto. “Society has a unique and wonderful opportunity in blockchain to help solve many pressing challenges,” Kevin said in our press release.

On alert
Investment opportunities newsletter
The Investments Working Group distributed its first quarterly alert to crypto investors of Crypto Valley members looking to raise funds. The alert was distributed to over 200 investors and contained the details of 23 organizations. If the number of startups looking for funding increases then the alert frequency will be updated. The group is focused over the coming quarters on attracting more crypto investors to join the Association to receive future curated list of investment opportunities. Crypto investors can apply to receive future alerts (link available to members only). 

Crypto Valley Conference
There are just two months to go until the CVA’s Crypto Valley Conference, which will take place from 20-22 June 2018 in Zug. The first blockchain conference driving progress through academic excellence, it will feature blockchain academic and industry leaders attracting investors, start-ups, and global blockchain enthusiasts. Members can get reduced-price tickets and also have the opportunity to host or sponsor a satellite event during the conference. Blockchain startups that think they have the stuff to win the SICTIC blockchain challenge, which will take place as a special satellite event of the conference, are encouraged to submit their application.

Big shots
Swiss Economics Minister to address Blockchain Summit
The Blockchain Summit - Crypto Valley, which takes place on April 26 in Zug, will welcome a prominent speaker: Swiss Minister of the Economy Johann Schneider-Ammann. The man who coined the term “crypto nation” for Switzerland will address the crowd in the opening keynote, and receive proposals for a responsible regulation and promotion of the emerging industry from members of the Blockchain Task Force. Less prominent, but closer to our hearts, both CVA Vice President Vasiliy Suvorov and Communications Working Group Chair Tom Lyons will be speaking on panels at the event. CVA members and friends can receive a 20% discount

On the slopes
Crypto Mountain Rocks again!
Never mind the WEF. Between March 21 and 23 this year, crypto dominated the scene at Davos at the second annual “Crypto Mountain Rocks - Cypto Valley in the Snow” event. Organized by Events working group Chair Reto Gadient, and billed especially as “not a conference”, Crypto Mountain featured workshops, talk battles, drinkabouts, and plenty of skiing. Short highlights here. More info and next year’s dates on the Crypto Mountain Rocks site.

Barnstorming the Big Apple
The CVA and members go to NY!
This year the CVA will once again be present at Consensus NY, one of if not the most important blockchain conferences of the year. Along with our co-presenters Greater Zurich Area and the Canton of Zug, we will be represented at our kiosk by five Platinum Sponsor members, Consensys, HIT Foundation, Melonport, MME and PwC, as well as 15 members who have taken Gold sponsorships. Under the banner of “Crypto Valley: Beyond the Hype”, the goal of the trip is support our mission to promote our ecosystem internationally and engage with the global crypto community. Along with our kiosk we are planning a media event and cocktail reception for over 70 invitees, as well as a microsite that will portray our ecosystem to the wider world. We expect to be blogging and tweeting on the ground as well. More information to follow.

Under the hood
Crypto Valley Coders Meetup launched
On January 18 the Technology working group kicked off its new monthly Crypto Valley Coders meetup series. Geared towards researchers and developers, this meetup focuses on the state-of-the-art and advances in blockchain technology. No discussion of legal or economic implications, just pure code. All who want to dive into the details of this exciting new technology are invited to join up.

Results are positive
Crypto Valley Labs off to a flying start
The Crypto Valley Labs in Zug opened in February and got off to a flying start. The location near the Zug train station is billed as a “fully-digitalized, fully-tokenized co-working space … offering a range of services and amenities for the worldwide blockchain and crypto community.” It’s appeal has not been lost on the community: the Labs already have signed up 65 tenants.

The right stuff
New Blockchain Competitions announced
Building on the success of last year’s Blockchain for Insurance competition, which attracted over 100 applications from 31 different countries, Lakeside Partners and inacta have announced two new competitions: for Finance and for Real Estate. As before, the competitions offer startups and teams working in blockchain the opportunity to win a no-strings attached cash prize of USD 100,000.00 plus access to industry executives, coaching and free office space in the Crypto Valley Labs. 

Talk of the Valley
Crypto Valley in the media

Our ecosystem continued to increase its already high visibility in the domestic and global media. 

In the forum
What you missed at the last meetups

In the first quarter the Crypto Valley Forum, with its flagship First Tuesday events, continued to grow, and now counts close to 2,000 members. The number of special and partner events that we have here in the Valley also continues to explode. All in all our events calendar carried over 30 listings during Q1. Here’s a selection in case you missed them:

  • 9 January (First Tuesday): Using Blockchain to disrupt Healthcare
  • 17 - 18 January: Crypto Finance Conference
  • 23 January: Blockchain4Good Crypto Valley Meetup - Projects blue Note and GreenList
  • 29 January: Panel on secure-compliant crypto accounts (organised by corporate CVA member)
  • 30 January (Partner Event): Increasing Transparency of NGO Financing (Geneva)
  • 31 January (Partner Event): Crypto- Disruptions & Opportunities, Crypto Valley-Western Switzerland Chapter (Geneva, Switzerland, Meetup)
  • 6 February (First Tuesday): Meet LoyalityCoin & Alpine Mining
  • 8 February: Launching event Crypt Valley Southern Alps 
  • 16 February: Crypto Friday - Wine & Vision (monthly event)
  • 27 February: Crypto Tax Panel discussion with experts of the CVA Tax Working Group
  • 28 February: IFZ FinTech Konferenz
  • 6 March (First Tuesday): ICO Pitch Pump & Mining Insights
  • 7 March: Monthly Networking & Drinks - Meet Multiven & OrbiCall
  • 14 March: FINMA roundtable: Presentation of the ICO guidelines
  • 15 March: Blockchain: The value of the trust machine?
  • 21 March: FINMA roundtable - presentation of the ICO guidelines
  • 22 March (Partner Event): CryptoMountainRocks 2018 
  • 22 March: ETH Zurich meets Startups
  • 23 March: Blockchain4Good Camp Fire Talk 
  • 26 March: Reception with Alex Tapscott
  • 26 March: Tag der Zuger Wirtschaft 2018
  • 27-28 March: Crypto Summit 2018 - Shaping Crypto Together
  • 28 March (Special Event): Crypto & Taxation

See and be seen
Upcoming events in and around the Valley

Life in the Valley should continue to be exciting with these upcoming events:

News from the Valley

Good books
Ad Interim General Assembly held
On April 13 we held an Ad Interim General Assembly with the primary purpose of electing an auditor for the Association. Members voted unanimously in favor of the proposed firm, brag Buchhaltungs und Treuhand AG.

Save the date
Next Annual General Assembly June 8
The next Annual General Assembly will be held on June 8. Invitations will be sent out to members in due time. 

Goal setters
CVA publishes its 2018 objectives
We recently published our 2018 objectives on the website. Take a look to see what we are working towards this year.

Help wanted
Job Board
Members of the community who have paid or unpaid positions available in Crypto Valley can advertise them on our Postings page. Not for ICOs, TGEs or capital funding activities.

Monero mining
Anyone looking to make an extra donation to the CVA can do so by mining Monero. Simply leave this page open in your browser, and the rest is taken care of automatically. 

Crypto Valley Library
The CVA online library is growing! Browse the “stacks” here.

At work
Updates from the Working Groups
  • The Events Working Group continued its tireless efforts to run the many CVA and partner events in its ever-expanding series (see above).
  • The Policy and Regulation Working Group finished the Code of Conduct (see above) and has been very busy taking part in the wider regulatory discussion.
  • The Communications Working Group continued its work publishing news and opinion on the website and working with the media. We held a kickoff in March for 2018 that attracted over 15 new volunteers, so the group is growing! Anyone who would like to join the Comms WG is invited to fill out our Onboarding Form
  • The Technology Working Group held the “Blockchain Conference: Value of the trust machine?” at the Hochschule Luzern. Work is also progressing on its blockchain workbench, which should be released this summer. As mentioned above, the working group also held several Crypto Valley Coders meetups, and was able to finalize the sponsor and speaker lists for the Crypto Valley Conference (the only IEEE and IEEE Computer Society endorsed blockchain conference in the world). 
  • The Startup Onboarding Working Group has produced updated guides for Zug, and for Western Switzerland, both of which are available in the Members document repository. It also worked behind-the-scenes to more efficiently handle startup inquiries. The working group also handled a number of high-level media interviews, including for The Economist and Le Temps. Working group head Nicolas Schobinger appeared before 500+ entrepreneurs at the Zug Economy Day (German).
  • The Western Switzerland chapter successfully launched at the beginning of the year, and is currently working on building a networking platform for the ecosystem, including local service providers where needed. It also established its Meetup community and has already held six events.
  • The Southern Alps chapter, announced last quarter, took up its work, and has already held a number of Meetups. 
  • The Tax and Structuring Working Group successfully held its inaugural on February 27, and has drafted a diverse working group board consisting of members with various backgrounds in accounting, tax and related technology.

We hope you enjoyed your reading. For questions and comments, don't hesitate to get in touch.

With best regards,
The Crypto Valley Association Board



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