Several businesses in “Crypto Valley,” centered in and around the Swiss canton of Zug, recently launched the Crypto Valley Association. The independent, government-supported association aims to take advantage of Switzerland’s strengths to build the world’s leading blockchain and cryptographic ecosystem, while working with government to foster the development of pioneering digital technologies. Alongside many blockchain startups in Zug, association launch members include Thomson Reuters, PWC, UBS, Luxoft, Lykke Corp and Lucerne University.
The new nonprofit association says that it will support startups and established enterprises through policy recommendations, by initiating and enabling research projects, and by organizing conferences, hackathons, and other industry events. Association members UBS and Credit Suisse had already made a name for themselves in the Swiss blockchain space when they launched a FinTech accelerator, focused on local blockchain startups.
“Are you building a decentralized, cryptography-based business? Why not join us in Zug, in the heart of Switzerland, one of the world's most technologically sophisticated and innovation friendly locations.”
- Crypto Valley Association
“Switzerland has established itself as one of the world’s leading countries for digital innovation,” the Crypto Valley Association states. The World Economic Forum has consistently ranks Switzerland number one on its global competitiveness rankings of 140 countries, which creates a unique environment that allows fintech innovation to flourish in the country.
Crypto Valley is an ecosystem with active connections to international centers of blockchain innovation in London, Singapore, Silicon Valley and New York. The unaffiliated Crypto Valley Zug website lists over 20 blockchain and crypto businesses located in the valley, including Xapo, Shapeshift, Monetas AG, ConsenSys, and Ethereum.
The picturesque town is only 25 km south of the major tech hub Zurich, it has low taxes, a strong tradition of privacy, light regulations for FinTech, and an existing support community of FinTech businesses with various meetup groups and conferences.
The Swiss town began accepting Bitcoin as payment for government services on July 1 2016, while the Swiss National Railway became the world’s largest Bitcoin ATM operator in October. Big-four accounting firm EY began accepting bitcoin for their services across the country the following month, and placed their own Bitcoin ATM machine in their building’s lobby.
“Home to hundreds of multinational enterprises, technology companies, and financial institutions, the country boasts world-leading infrastructure, a sophisticated workforce, and one of the world’s most decentralized, stable and neutral political systems.”
- Crypto Valley Association
The Crypto Valley Association was established to support the development and dissemination of cryptographic technologies, blockchain, and other distributed ledger technologies, through supporting startups and other companies in Zug, Switzerland and internationally. The organization’s mission is to shape an open, free, and prosperous financial services industry of the future.
“The Crypto Valley Association is a valuable ecosystem for the exchange of ideas, and as a technology partner,” said Vasily Suvorov, Vice President Technology Strategy Luxoft and the Association’s new Vice President. “Luxoft will benefit from constant involvement in diverse technical, business, legal, and academic communities.”
Former UBS Group CIO Oliver Bussmann will lead the Association as President. Other officers include Treasurer Professor René Huesler, who is the Director of the Lucerne School of Information Technology at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
“With the founding of Crypto Valley Association, we are promoting more than a region: we have founded a global association as a base for the sector’s most innovative and forward thinking companies, further strengthening Switzerland’s position as a leading centre of innovation in this sector.”
- Oliver Bussmann, Crypto Valley Association President
The Association is currently attracting venture capital, private equity, media, established IT firms, universities, and new startups to the group, including several large names like PWC and Reuters. "Thomson Reuters Labs around the world collaborate with customers to solve big problems and rapidly prototype and validate solutions across technologies,” said David Craig, the President of Financial and Risk Business at Thomson Reuters.
“The formation of Crypto Valley Association has already engaged local government, startups, venture capital and larger corporations. This gives us access to a pipeline of interesting startups, talent and an opportunity to participate directly in initiatives driving the technology,” Craig states. “We have been particularly impressed with the calibre of individuals in the Zug ecosystem “with participants bringing novel ideas and engaging in more detailed discussions than in other forums.”