Switzerland has historically been a haven for banking and financial services firms. Switzerland’s traditional stance as a neutral country, coupled with strict laws about banking secrecy (although those are on their way out) have provided an ideal location for wealthy individuals to stash their cash. What better place to start a new global hub for cryptocurrency startups?
In the canton of Zug, a plan is underway to promote the area as the new Crypto Valley, loosely modeled off of Silicon Valley in California. In fact, the Ethereum Foundation, which develops the cryptocurrency Ether, is already headquartered in Zug, as are several other cryptocurrency related businesses. The appeal of a Swiss cryptocurrency hub lies partly in the tax benefits: the canton of Zug is particularly noted for its low tax rate and government amenable to cryptocurrencies.
The move to start the Crypto Valley is far from a flight of fancy – even fairly staid firms such as PwC are in support of the measure. All this points to a growing consensus that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain are here to stay. Business schools now write articles weighing various aspects of the technology, and even IBM has a team working on a version of blockchain for enterprise use called Hyperledger.
All of these movements in the banking industry could foreshadow larger movements to decentralize government. A Harvard researcher – and “chief alchemist” at blockchain startup Backfeed – named Primavera De Filippi, has published several articles related to how this technology could be used to design a cooperative system, using “governance by design” architecture. While it remains to be seen if the blockchain will revolutionize government, it is already making its mark on banking and finance.