Category Archives: Joerg Gasser

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Swiss State Secretary: Standards Not Regulation Will Boost Crypto Market

Switzerland’s State Secretary has commented that fintech has moved beyond “hype-cycle” into a stage where standards are now more important than regulation. Secretary Joerg Gasser was speaking at this week’s Singapore Fintech Festival.

The Swiss minister pointed out the increased demand for fintech regulation internationally was not necessarily in the best interest of promoting the industry. Improved market efficiency within the sector has lead to a situation where more focus can now be placed on technologically-neutral regulations based on a far more collaborative approach toward blockchain technology. Standards, Gasser maintained, are now the key element moving forward.

During the panel discussion entitled ‘Capital Markets: Killer Use Case for Blockchain?’, Gasser pointed out that powerful investors are now getting into blockchain, which has increased the demand for regulation. But adoption can only be assured if industry standards continue to be maintained.

He cited his native country, Switzerland, as an example of principle-based and technology-neutral regulation, a country in which regulation was seen as cooperative rather than punitive, encouraging innovation through government support.

This was demonstrated earlier this year when Switzerland took another step along that road with the country’s stock exchange, SIX,  announcing that it will open its doors to digital currencies. The new platform being built by SIX will offer integrated post-transaction services such as deal settlement and asset custody through DLT.

SIX, regulated by national regulator Finma and the Swiss central bank, says that it plans to roll out its cryptocurrency service in the first half of 2019. SIX’s chief executive, Jos Dijsselhof commented:

“For us, it is abundantly clear that much of what is going on in the digital space is here to stay and will define the future of our industry. The financial industry now needs to bridge the gap between traditional financial services and digital communities.”

With SEBA Crypto AG expecting to be licensed as a securities dealer and bank by June of next year, it appears that banks are finally warming to the concept of digital assets. Guido Bühler, CEO of SEBA Crypto AG, suggests that five large asset managers from overseas have also shown some interest in the bank.

The bank plans to offer custodial services with plans to raise a further USD 206 million through an ICO in order to expand its operations into major financial hubs in the new year.

 

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Switzerland, Israel Share Blockchain Regulatory Experiences

Switzerland and Israel have agreed to share their experiences in regulating the blockchain industry as part of a deal that will open up access to Swiss banks in Israel.

Negotiating terms

During a trip to the middle eastern country, Switzerland’s Minister of Finance Ueli Maurer and State Secretary for International Financial Matters Joerg Gasser discussed terms for entering the Israeli market with high-ranking state officials.

Part of the terms of this agreement concluded that both sides would cooperate with each other in areas of financial technology regulation and cryptocurrencies, as well as both parties sharing their history of success and failures in regulating the blockchain industry.

With significant financial stakes on the line for both parties, cryptocurrency and blockchain making it onto the agenda highlight how critical these emerging fields are becoming in everyday politics.

Gasser told Reuters that Switzerland should have a blockchain report outlining policy recommendations ready for Israel by the end of the year, estimating that it will take until early 2020 for the new legislation to go into effect. He said, “We need market access and each other’s markets unfettered and as free as possible.”

While Israel allows EU banks access to the country’s markets, Switzerland is not a member of the bloc and follows different fiscal policy.

Blockchain in Israel

Israel has several blockchain-related projects on the horizon, and it makes practical sense that the country would be looking into how and where regulating the industry works from a state with far more experience such as Switzerland.

As Israel is a leading expert in drones, it is perhaps unsurprising that one of the country’s biggest blockchain innovations is in this area. A startup called Applied Blockchain founded by Adi Ben-Ari has developed the Blockchain drone registry to track and secure commercial drone flights and deliveries.

 

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