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VC Investments Push Swiss Startups to $1.25 Billion Record

VC Investments Push Swiss Startups to .25 Billion Record

This year’s Swiss Venture Capital Report has revealed that Swiss startups are increasingly attracting venture capital investment, with 2018 breaking all records.

The latest report, released by news outlet Startupticker.ch and the Swiss Private Equity and Corporate Finance Association (SECA), points to cryptocurrency companies as being at the forefront of attracting VC investment with Swiss startups receiving almost CHF 1.24 billion (Swiss francs equivalent of USD 1.25 billion) of venture capital during 2018. Much of the investment was aimed at Zug, Switzerland’s appropriately-named Crypto Valley. The figures represent an increase of 32% from 2017 with financing rounds increasing by over 31%. The figures cover venture capital investments of at least CHF 100,000.

The spike in investment has been put down to increased interest in both the ITC and fintech sectors, with new funding for the former almost doubling the previous year’s figures. In 2018, 131 Swiss ICT start-ups amassed CHF 685 million from investors, 55% of the total invested capital, which included the cryptocurrency sector raising 15%, almost CHF 188 million.

The largest amount raised last year was in the crypto sector, with CHF 100 million raised by the Zug-based SEBA Crypto, whose main focus is on combining crypto and traditional banking services. The report found that the geographical distribution of VC investment was clearly Zurich-centered with a significant increase on last years figures. However, Zug, home to some of the world’s leading cryptocurrency companies, and many of Switzerland’s major players, experienced a 143% VC funds increase year-on-year.

Conclusions drawn from the report indicate that with the hype now gone, and with Switzerland now acknowledged a crypto-friendly space, the local cryptocurrency scene is entering a “period of normalization and professionalization”, backed by the government in Bern, which has recently adopted a comprehensive strategy for the development of cryptocurrency in the alpine nation.

 

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Crypto Community Happy with Switzerland’s New Industry Friendly President

Switzerland has a new rotating president as its former finance minister Ueli Maurer takes over the helm after overseeing the country’s financial sector for 3 years.

The move is seen as a positive one in the eyes of Switzerland’s burgeoning cryptocurrency community, as Maurer had been at the helm of numerous positive developments in the crypto arena during his role as a finance minister.

As finance minister, Maurer has helped his country’s financial sector adapt to the changing face of the finance, particularly in its adoption of regulations overseeing the cryptocurrency sector; industry-friendly regulations which are much admired by many nations around the world who are also in the process of regulating new financial technologies.

The government’s liberal blockchain regulations are one of the reasons that Switzerland has become a world-class playground for start-ups and successful blockchain enterprises. The Alpine nation’s latest announcement regarding DLT and its increasingly prevalent place in the country’s financial sector is a new strategy for amending current outmoded laws. The strategy also calls for the integration of cryptocurrencies into the heart of Switzerland’s economic plan.

A blockchain task force of blockchain industry stakeholders was formed last year when it became clear that emerging technologies were gaining traction within the Swiss financial economy.

Switzerland’s biggest hurdle, a factor which President Maurer has acknowledged in the past, remains the reluctance of Swiss banks to service cryptocurrency businesses and exchanges, an issue which is still causing concerns in the industry and one that has recently prompted companies to consider moving to more favorable jurisdictions for banking.

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Swiss Report Recommends Flexible Revisions to Blockchain Regulations

Swiss Report Recommends Flexible Revisions to Blockchain Regulations

A new Swiss report on blockchain technology by a federal blockchain/ICO working group has recommended flexible changes to existing regulations that oversee the space in that country.

Regarding cryptocurrency, the report is specifically calling for more clarity for exchanges while safeguarding the current Anti Money Laundering (AML) Act to safeguard the rights of investors. Heinz Tännler, President of the Swiss Blockchain Federation, commented, “Legal implementation now needs to follow on quickly. Switzerland needs this certainty as a base for further development.”

Switzerland is one of the leading lights in the industry and Crypto Valley in the small town of Zug has become a blockchain incubator and driver for numerous blockchain startups.

The report does not recommend a discrete law relating to blockchain but suggests existing civil and financial market laws can still be used to cover the new technology by making relevant adjustments. In this way, a more flexible structure can be created for blockchain-based financial market infrastructures to work with.

A blockchain task force of blockchain industry stakeholders was formed last year when it became clear that emerging technologies were gaining traction within the Swiss financial economy. The task force is also recommending that the highlighted changes in the working group are quickly put into action.

Such is the nature of Switzerland’s enthusiasm for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology, what could have been an investigation into the failings and successes of blockchain became a call for positive action in the hands of the working group comprised of government councilors, councilors of states, and national councilors. The report stated that the idea was to move blockchain further down its successful route:

“The work of our group is geared towards turning that initial spark into a bonfire – for the benefit of Switzerland and of the world.”

Switzerland’s State Secretary Joerg Gasser has opined that standards are now more important than regulation since according to him, fintech has moved beyond the “hype-cycle”. On the horizon, more utility use for blockchain enterprise seems to be developing as well.

 

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Seoul Mayor Unveils Broad 5-Year Blockchain Infrastructure Plan

Speaking in Zug, Europe’s “Crypto Valley”, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, reaffirmed his campaign promises by announcing a robust plan for blockchain funding and development in the capital city.

Blockchain hubs

During his Crypto Valley stop on an 11-day European excursion, Park revealed his intentions to foster blockchain technologies in Seoul with a city government fund of KRW 100 billion (USD 88.9 million) for blockchain startups by 2022.

Korean news website Joongang Daily reported that local government entities will too be building on this. The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that it is set to establish two technology complexes by 2021; it will house a total of 200 blockchain companies at the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and the Seoul Innovation Hub.

In a statement, the Seoul Metropolitan Government also said, “In the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park, we intend to build a separate blockchain building by 2021 to attract start-ups, small and medium-sized companies as well as conglomerates working in the field both in and out of the country to do more R&D work in the sector.”

There are also plans in place to establish two training centers at these locations to nurture a new generation of 730 blockchain experts over the next five years. South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT approximates that there are presently around 600 blockchain experts in Korea, claiming that this is not enough to have a “globally competitive edge in the sector”.

Crypto Valley

The famed Crypto Valley of Zug in Switzerland is where renowned blockchain firms such as the Ethereum Foundation and ConsenSys operate. According to South Korean media outlet Yonhap News, Zug is also home to around 250 “blockchain-based” companies.

Park said at Zug city hall, “It is the plan of the Seoul city government to create an ecosystem of blockchain here, with hopes that the city will be globally recognized as a blockchain hub… We will try to attract many blockchain experts into Seoul, just like Zug. For this, we will need to establish an environment that is friendly for innovative blockchain companies.”

Seoul, “Testbed City”

The city is also to experiment with 14 blockchain projects over these next five years, as part of this plan, blockchain technology will be implemented into Seoul’s administrative processes, which Park believes will “set a precedent for all cities in Korea”.

Referencing the 1.15 million people in Seoul who are recipients of welfare funds, the mayor believes that the blockchain will remove the difficulties of paperwork and verification processes that usually go through multiple agencies before they can get support.

He adds, “Seoul is truly a testbed city for the technology. And I think if anyone, the city government of Seoul should lead this innovation.”

A notable project that was revealed is the combination of blockchain tech and a voting platform, which according to the city government, will increase public confidence in vote results. This project appears to offer versatile options beyond that of the political spheres.

To give an example, Park described a scenario in which tenants of an apartment complex in Seoul could vote on whether or not it should be renovated, and that blockchain technology enables this system to be trustworthy and increase voter turnouts.

 

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