Switzerland has established a working group tasked with investigating the possibility of regulating blockchain technology and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country, as per a report by Reuters. The working group will be required to present a report to the government by the end of 2018.
The Swiss finance ministry confirmed that the task force was established by the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, and includes Swiss financial regulator FINMA and the Federal Office for Justice. As per a statement by the ministry:
“The aim of this work is to increase legal certainty, maintain the integrity of the financial center and ensure technology-neutral regulation. This clarification of the regulatory framework should help to ensure that Switzerland remains an attractive location in this area.”
Switzerland has long been viewed as a cryptocurrency haven of sorts, particularly the town of Zug, which has been labelled “Crypto Valley” owing to the significant presence of fintech startups and blockchain companies in the area. The growth and development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency-related businesses in the country has largely been possible owing to the Swiss government’s relaxed regulations for fintech companies.
However, while the government is still committed to maintaining Switzerland’s status as a blockchain tech hub, authorities have begun to keep a closer watch on ICOs – a crowdfunding method which skyrocketed in popularity during 2017, raising more than $5 billion throughout the year.
ICOs are banned in both China and South Korea, and numerous regulatory bodies worldwide have issued warnings urging investors to view ICOs with extreme caution.
FINMA also conducted an investigation into numerous ICOs last year, for possible violations of Swiss law; however, it appears the newly-founded inter-agency task force will be taking a broader view of the situation, and proposing supervisory measures for the blockchain and ICO space as a whole. While this does not necessarily mean Switzerland will cease to be a blockchain hub, the formation of the working group does hinter at higher levels of regulation in the future.