top of page

Switrzerland - blockchain & cryptocurrency regulations review

author: adv. Justyna Maria Bartoszek


Switzerland is one of the most regulatory-friendly countries for entities that rely on blockchain and distributed ledgers (“DLT”) technology. For several years, intensive work has been carried out there to ensure legal and regulatory security of these entities and create an appropriate environment for their development. It was in Switzerland that the Crypto Valley Association was founded, which creates one of the world's leading blockchain ecosystems.

In 2018, the Swiss regulator took steps to assess the applicable regulations in terms of the possibility of using and implementing blockchain and DLT technologies. The analysis carried out by the Swiss showed that the current regulatory environment allows for the development of new technologies, such as blockchain and DLT. At the same time, however, areas where improvements can be made have been identified. Therefore, in 2019, the executive body of the federal government of the Swiss Confederation published draft laws on blockchain and DLT technology.


The main act together with the accompanying legal act were passed by the parliament and entered into force on August 1, 2021. The act itself is a framework regulation and introduces changes to a number of acts in force in the Swiss legal system. The Act introduced into Swiss legislation, among others: the concept of tokenization of rights, receivables and financial instruments (so-called DLT-securities). The concept of DLT-securities aims to ensure the tokenization of rights by providing them with a legal framework that involves the same protection as traditional securities.


The issue of tokens itself has also been regulated. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (“FINMA”) published the Initial Coin Offering Guidelines (“ICO Guidelines”) in 2018. These guidelines distinguish payment tokens, utility tokens and investment tokens (asset tokens), as well as hybrid tokens, which with their characteristics fill more than one of the above-mentioned categories. In 2019, the ICO Guidelines were additionally clarified by a supplement answering further questions related to the practical aspects of projects based on the so-called stablecoins.


In terms of cryptocurrencies, Swiss law does not prohibit their "mining" or trading, but at the moment there is no regulation directly dedicated to them in this country. Entities dealing with cryptocurrency trading, however, must comply with the obligations arising from the relevant legal acts regarding AML. Cryptocurrency exchanges are treated as financial intermediaries and as such are subject to the supervision of FINMA.


Switzerland is therefore a country that is a relatively safe jurisdiction in the context of establishing and developing start-ups based on blockchain, DLT technologies, or those related to cryptocurrencies. According to the information provided by the Swiss government, over 1,000 entities relying on these technologies have been registered in this country, and their number is still growing.


The choice of the Swiss jurisdiction as the place for a company planning to base its operations on blockchain or DLT is usually positively received by potential and future contractors and clients. This is mainly due to regulatory certainty, a clearly outlined legal framework and the fact that many successful enterprises have paved the way for operational activities in this country.



Sources:

  1. https://cryptovalley.swiss/ (access on: 29 November 2022).

  2. Along with the main Act of September 25, 2020 on Adapting Federal Law to the Development of Distributed Ledger Technology, an accompanying act was also passed, i.e. the Ordinance on Adapting Federal Law to the Development of Distributed Ledger Technology.

Comments


bottom of page