The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) announced on Friday that it had issued a new guidance document that addresses the treatment of crypto and blockchain-related firms in Switzerland. The guidance, which should be considered by member banks, aims to bring more clarity and remove the obstacles that constrain the development of the Swiss blockchain ecosystem. The guide was well received by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and the Federal Department of Finance (FDF).
The SBA worked on the guidelines in collaboration with the Regulatory Working Group of Crypto Valley Association (CVA), an organization set up by SBA. The organizations found it necessary to make a clear distinction between blockchain firms seeking to raise funds through initial coin offerings (ICOs) and those that are not involved with ICOs at all. Thus, the companies outside the ICO space should be traded the same as regular Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
On the other side, blockchain firms that plan to hold an ICO can feel free to do in the form of cryptocurrencies or fiat money. If their ICOs accumulate cryptocurrencies, there should be imposed additional requirements, the guideline says. When accepting cryptocurrencies, ICO companies should make sure to implement the Swiss standards on anti-money laundering (AML) and the origin of funds (KYC).
CVA president Oliver Bussmann showed support for the guideline. He said:
“We have seen a lot of positive growth in the ecosystem over the past 18 months and now it was very important that the SBA, CVA and authorities could come together and successfully work on a solution that can ease some of the restrictions that could hamper the continuation of that growth.”
According to the SBA, the guide is meant to help banks “take a differentiated approach to account opening,” based on the company’s involvement with blockchain technology. The organization stressed that it welcomed the fact that Switzerland is a blockchain-friendly country and notes a growing number of blockchain-oriented firms. However, given the country’s strict laws and due diligence requirements in terms of financial transactions, banks have been reluctant at times to open accounts for such companies. The new guideline intends to fix that.
In July, we reported that the Swiss Finance Ministry was working with the SBA to remove obstacles to the expansion of blockchain space as crypto-projects at that time could hardly access traditional banking services.