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CVA in the News

FINMA roundtable: presentation of the ICO guidelines

By | CVA in the News

FINMA will hold a series of general roundtable discussions (in English) to present its recently published ICO Guidelines in Zug, Geneva and Lugano.

Amongst others FINMA will present its assessment of ICOs under its guidelines, the categorisation of tokens and how ICOs are potentially impacted by financial market regulation.

The attendees who have questions to Finma about the ICO Guidelines, if any, are kindly requested to send such questions ultimately by 6th March via the Question Submission Form link.

The closing date for registration is 6th March 2018. Please note that the number of places is limited. Registrations will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Participation is free of charge.

Zug: 14th March 2018, 09.00-11.00, Burgbachsaal (Dorfstrasse 12, 6300 Zug), link to registration

Lugano: 10th April 2018, 14.00-16.00, USI University (Via Buffi 13, 6900 Lugano), link to registration.

Geneva: 21st March 2018, 10.00-12.00, Impact Hub Geneva (Rue Fendt 1, 1201 Geneva), link to registration.

CVA Western Switzerland “open for business”

By | CVA in the News

The Crypto Valley Association (CVA) is proud to announce that its Western Switzerland Chapter has now been constituted and begun its activities.

The Chapter will be organising two different events in the coming weeks. The first, Crypto – Disruptions & Opportunities will take place on January 31st in Geneva, and is hosted by the Swiss CFA Society. CVA President Oliver Bussmann will be present as the main speaker. The Chapter will also be hosting the first of its monthly Networking and Drinks meetups on February 6th in Geneva, with LoyaltyCoin and AlpineMining as speakers. Registration for both events is still open, please do not hesitate to join!

Fertile ground for Francophone crypto
The intention to launch this chapter came with the goal of expanding the Crypto Valley Association’s reach as an ecosystem hub to all of Switzerland. As Nicolas Schobinger, head of CVA Western Switzerland, said, “Although the term Crypto Valley currently stands for the corridor from Zurich to Zug, the name is a very strong brand that resonates across the world and is associated with Switzerland as a whole.” This reflects the words of Stefan Kyora, the Editor in Chief of startupticker.ch: “Switzerland has no start-up hub; it is a start-up hub.”

According to Schobinger, there is a growing francophone blockchain ecosystem outside of Swiss borders that is looking to expand, but faces hurdles among other things due to an unclear regulatory framework from the different countries. The members of these ecosystems, above all in France and Canada, have an eye on Western Switzerland, where they can find a French-speaking environment tailored to help and support startups in the crypto world.

The region from Lausanne to Geneva is already a very dynamic blockchain hub, with a lot to offer. As well as benefiting from Switzerland’s startup-friendly regulatory space, Geneva is a hub for both finance and international NGOs, while Lausanne is the home to EPFL and UNIL, two of the world’s premiere academic institutions. Furthermore, according to Startupticker.ch’s ‘Swiss Venture Capital Report 2017’, the cantons of Vaud and Geneva account for close to 65% of the total VC funds invested in Switzerland in 2016.

The goal for this expansion is therefore to help accelerate the development of the blockchain ecosystem in this particular region of Switzerland. The team hopes that this expansion will lead to an increase of new members (individual and corporate) in the region, and the development of a local networking and meetup platform.

Getting up to speed
Progress on the Western Switzerland Chapter has been rapid. The team led by Schobinger (who is also Chair of the Startup Onboarding Working Group) and Raya Mileva, has been working to publish specific guides for the region, to meet with local authorities in Geneva and Lausanne, and to launch the networking platform.

The team is currently looking for sponsors for the various events coming up. Please do not hesitate to contact the team if you have any contacts or interest in this initiative.

Nicolas Schobinger – Team Leader Western Switzerland Chapter
e-mail: nschobinger@cryptovalley.swiss

Philippe Henderson – Media Contact Western Switzerland Chapter
e-mail: philippehenderson95@gmail.com
mobile: +41 70 650 17 06

ICO Central: Why Switzerland Will Remain Crypto Valley

By | CVA in the News

Despite recent news regarding FINMA’s scrutiny of ICO activities in Switzerland, many factors indicate that Switzerland is poised to remain a main hub for startups who wish fund their projects this way.

There is strong evidence that Switzerland’s crypto/blockchain community is helping shape a more mature approach to the new and innovative economic models developing through token sales. Last month’s ICO Summit in Zurich served as a microcosm of this outlook.

In an opinion piece for CoinDesk, Ian Simpson of CVA founding member Lakeside Partners offers perspective on why Switzerland still holds top place for blockchain startups – and what this means for the future.

Read the full article here.

Leading Blockchain Law Firm MME Introduces New Legal Framework to Shape the Future of Tokenized Assets

By | CVA in the News

Crypto Valley Association member introduces concept of Blockchain Crypto Property (BCP) to provide classification and risk-assessment of crypto assets

Zug, Switzerland, October 2, 2017Crypto Valley Association (CVA), the Swiss-based not-for-profit association supporting the development of blockchain and cryptographic related technologies and businesses, today distributed a paper on behalf of MME and Blockhaus, proposing a new method for token classification. Both MME, the leading Swiss consultancy firm for law, tax and compliance in Blockchain applications and Blockhaus, a developer of decentralized investment banking platform applications for tokenized ecosystems, are active members of the CVA. The framework was developed specifically for utilization for regulatory and critical risk-assessment purposes.

The paper, entitled “Conceptual Framework for Legal & Risk Assessment of Blockchain Crypto Property,” introduces the concept of Blockchain Crypto Property or BCP. BCP is defined as digital information that contains all elements of a property right that is registered on a blockchain or in an alternative digital ledger, which can be transferred via protocol, that may carry out additional functions governed by a Smart Control System, following coded or manual input.

“Information on a blockchain is unlike any other previous incarnation of digital information. Blockchain Crypto Property shares many of the characteristics attributed to physical and other tangible properties as we understand them in the law, and yet BCPs are expanded with purely digital characteristics as well. These are groundbreaking concepts that require further examination and novel classification. Our paper examines the legal and risk characteristics of this completely new kind of property. A common understanding of the underlying nature of different kinds of cryptographic tokens would allow policymakers to construct thoughtful and enforceable legal and regulatory frameworks. Moreover, an agreed-upon framework could also provide investors and issuers with standard tools to evaluate, mitigate, and communicate risks in token design and launches,” said Dr. Luka Müller, Partner at MME.

The MME and Blockhaus paper contains a functional approach in defining the three main categories of BCPs: tokens without a counterparty, tokens that have a counterparty, and a completely new asset-class, tokenized co-ownership. The “without counterparty” classification is represented by native currency tokens, infrastructure tokens, and application tokens that do not grant holders any rights and have no underlying assets; tokens like Ethereum and Bitcoin fall into this class. The second classification, or “counterparty class,” refers to tokens which include any form of a relative right, such as the right to receive an asset or financial payment, either against the token generator or a third-party. The final classification, the “co-ownership class,” denotes tokens with smart contracts that are programmed or registered on the blockchain, allowing individuals to participate and co-own a technical platform or a form of intellectual property.

The main purpose of functional categorization is to grant a structured approach for legal, regulatory and tax assessment purposes. In addition, the BCP concept provides tools that will enable interested parties to make clear and well-founded analyses of tokens from legal and risk perspectives, in turn making it easier to identify frauds and uncover potential flaws. Consequently, the ability to categorize assets and assess risks is of huge value not only to regulators but to investors and token issuers.

In addition to the three BCP classes, MME has devised risk cases in order for regulators and potential investors to assess the risks associated with tokenized assets. These fall under four categories: functionality and protocol-related risks, such as network attacks and faults; storage and access of private key-related risks, like hacked wallets and exchanges; market-related and counterparty risks, such as insider trading and liquidity risks; and regulation and money laundering-related risks.

“The issue of the legal and regulatory status of cryptocurrencies is currently the most pressing concern in our community. Crypto Valley Association has called on regulators to devise clear, comprehensive, and flexible regulation on tokenized assets that protects investors but also supports innovation. We believe that MME’s BCP concept is an important contribution to this debate. It can be of immense use to both regulators seeking to understand cryptocurrencies and investors looking to evaluate their risks,” said Oliver Bussmann, President at Crypto Valley Association.

With offices in Zurich and Zug, MME is a leading consultancy firm in law, tax, and compliance. MME advises and represents companies and private clients in commercial, corporate and private business matters. Prominent in the blockchain legal space, MME has assisted many crypto organizations set up in Switzerland.

“We are now entering a new age of the tokenized ecosystem. In order to understand the opportunities associated with tokenized assets, while also recognizing the risks, we require a clear conceptual framework to open the doors of the tokenized economy for mainstream adoption. The BCP concept we are proposing should serve as a method of structured discussion between all participants of the blockchain community,” said Dr. Müller.

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 a combined investment in bitcoin and ether of over $600 million USD.

“Conceptual Framework for Legal & Risk Assessment of Blockchain Crypto Property” can be accessed here. The paper was written by, Dr. Luka Müller, Stephan D. Meyer and supported by Christine Gschwend and Peter Henschel.

An in-depth interview with Luka Müller on the BCP concept is available on the Crypto Valley Association blog.


CVA Board Member Soren Fog Speaks at Russian Blockchain Conference

By | CVA in the News

On September 1st, Soren Fog – a member of the CVA board and founder of blockchain startup iProtus – travelled to Tatarstan to speak at the “Blockchain: the New Oil of Russia” conference.

Mr Fog’s speech concentrated on the experience of working with the local Crypto Valley community, organising the local meetups through the Crypto Valley Forum and helping set up the Crypto Valley Association.

He also committed himself to pursuing cooperation between Swiss and Russian organisations to pilot blockchain projects in a number of areas.

Read the press release here.

CVA President Oliver Bussmann Interviewed on Swiss National Radio

By | CVA in the News

August 17 was a big day for the Crypto Valley Association in the Swiss media.

The visit by the Swiss Economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann to the CVA not only rated a segment on the Swiss nightly news, it was also the occasion for an in-depth, 30-minute interview with CVA President Oliver Bussmann on Swiss national radio (in German).

The wide ranging interview covered a number of topics around blockchain and the Crypto Valley.

Clear role for government

With the ministerial visit to CVA in mind, Bussmann was first asked how he saw the role of the government in supporting the CVA ecosystem.

“The government is an essential part of the ecosystem and has an important role to play in helping bring resources and know-how to our area,” Bussmann said. “When it comes to developing Crypto Valley, cooperation between government, startups, established companies and academia is key.”

The good news, he continued, is that the Swiss government has been very active in this area. In financial services, for instance, we have seen the Swiss Fintech license and regulatory sandbox, both of which make it easier for startups to experiment and innovate. But the government’s role goes beyond just financial services.

“It is also about the competition between locations,” Bussmann said. “It’s important that a given location be associated with new developments because that helps foster investments in these areas and build up know-how.” Here the government has a clear role too – though it’s important that the authorities find the right balance between consumer protection on the one hand and making it possible for new technologies to establish themselves on the other.

Intense interest

Bussmann said the visit of the Economy minister was also important considering the current intense interest in Crypto Valley.

“We have seen tremendous growth and momentum over the past few months in our association,” he said. “We now have 200 members and the name Crypto Valley has gained global recognition. We hope to point this out to Minister Schneider-Ammann and the Swiss government and also show them that there is even more potential here.”

The interviewer mentioned criticism that Crypto Valley is attracting lots of capital at the moment, but this has not created many jobs. Bussmann agreed, but felt that that would change.

“The Association’s clear intention is to create jobs in Switzerland,” he said. “We want to do this by continuing to attract startups and, through the cooperation between startups, academia, the government and established companies, build a sustainable ecosystem that creates employment opportunities.”

Digital Zug

The government of Zug had made a name for itself a while ago when it became the first jurisdiction in the world where people could pay for government services in bitcoin. Recently it made headlines again with the announcement that it was becoming the first community to offer all citizens the option of getting a blockchain-based digital identity.

While the interviewer praised this for being admirably progressive, the truth is that very few people have actually used bitcoin in Zug. The interviewer also wanted to know if it made sense to have a digital ID just for one local government.

Bussmann countered that even though few had use bitcoin in Zug to date, the experiment is still much more than a PR gag. With it, the government is gaining valuable experience in this technology, which is still extremely new, and that experience will pay off in the future. The same will also surely be the case with the digital ID.

“From my long experience in the IT world, I know that there is always a learning curve,” he said. “But you need to start somewhere, and the government is definitely gaining a lot of knowhow, even if the volumes are very low right now.”

Swiss Economy Minister Visits Zug to Learn About Blockchain and Crypto Valley

By | CVA in the News

by Ian Simpson.

The growing ecosystem in Crypto Valley isn’t only attracting interest on the international level. Some of the top politicians in the land are taking notice as well.

On Thursday, 17 August, Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann paid a personal visit to Zug to – in his words – “learn about all this.” He didn’t go away disappointed.

During a more than three-hour session held at Lakeside Business Center that was organized by the City of Zug and Lakeside Partners, Mr Schneider-Ammann had an opportunity to learn about blockchain technology and meet several of the top startups in the area.

Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann addresses the Crypto Valley Association.

After an introduction by Matthias Michel from the Canton of Zug, Dr Sebastian Bürgel, CTO of Validity Labs gave a concise overview of the theory behind blockchain – including a unique “thought experiment” to illustrate its properties.

He was followed by Mathias Ruch, Managing Partner of Lakeside Partners, who outlined the investment perspective for startups seeking to establish themselves in Crypto Valley. He highlighted the potential in talent and infrastructure that is currently attracting blockchain startups to the area – as well as the need for more development and the challenges they face in settling in Switzerland.

The “learning experience” for Mr Schneider-Ammann also featured an example of one startup that has committed wholeheartedly to the Crypto Valley ecosystem, Melonport. Its CEO Mona El Isa gave a full demonstration of the asset management platform for crypto assets that Melonport has built over the last months. She was followed by Stephan Karpischek, co-founder of Etherisc – one of the most innovative insurtech startups using blockchain.

Mathias Ruch, Managing Partner of Lakeside Partners explaining the startup development cycle in the blockchain space.

The final portion of the day’s agenda included a roundtable discussion with Mr Schneider-Ammann himself as well as all of the individual speakers plus Managing Director of digitalswitzerland Nicolas Bürer and Melonport CTO Reto Trinkler – and moderated by Crypto Valley Association Treasurer and Professor at the Lucerne School of Applied Sciences René Hüsler. The conversation centered around the possibilities for promoting the expansion of the Crypto Valley ecosystem and the challenges of attracting and keeping foreign talent and creating jobs.

And while there was acknowledgement on the part of Mr Schneider-Amman that his goal of allocating CHF 150 million for startups in Switzerland might face an uphill battle in the Federal Council, he declared quite plainly that, “this is the future [and] I don’t want us to be stuck in bureaucracy anymore.”

The Swiss Federal Councillor’s visit came on a day that saw blockchain and Crypto Valley featured in the news on several other fronts – including a feature from Swiss television station SRF and an interview with Crypto Valley Association President Oliver Bussmann (in German).


Crypto Valley featured in Newsweek

By | CVA in the News

American magazine Newsweek has just published a long feature on the Crypto Valley, describing it as a “worldwide hub for entrepreneurs working with digital currencies” and a growing community of cryptographic technologies businesses drawn by “Switzerland’s political stability and Zug’s smooth bureaucracy.”

The piece includes quotes from CVA members Johann Gevers and Olga Feldmeier, among others, and focuses in particular on Switzerland’s relative regulatory “openness” to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Read more

Swiss city of Zug to offer blockchain-based digital identity to residents

By | CVA in the News

The city of Zug in Switzerland announces that it is the first community to offer all citizens of the city the opportunity to get a blockchain-based digital identity.

The digital ID is based on an app that utilizes blockchain technology to secure personal information and associate it with a crypto address. With the digital ID, the residents can register their identity independently on the app and the identity is verified by the ID control of the town of Zug.

Read the full release here (German).