Swiss Lawmakers Take Steps Toward Bitcoin Regulation

Switzerland is moving to regulate bitcoin and blockchain tech.

AccessTimeIconNov 2, 2016 at 4:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:35 p.m. UTC

Its national railway service may have already jumped on the bitcoin bandwagon, but Switzerland is taking a slower approach as it looks to regulate digital currencies and fintech.

Days after Swiss rail operator SBB made international headlines for the decision to sell bitcoin through its network of ticket kiosks, the country’s Federal Department of Finance (FDF) outlined its plans to regulate fintech with an eye to introduce legislation sometime next year.

Key elements include plans for a new kind of license geared specifically toward fintech companies and a so-called regulatory “sandbox” for experimental firms. Under the proposed regime, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority would become the primary regulator of fintech firms working in Switzerland.

Questions remain, however. In a statement, the FDF said that it will pursue additional research into bitcoin and other digital currencies, as well as broader applications of blockchain.

The agency said today:

“...the FDF should conduct additional clarifications in cooperation with the interested authorities on reducing further barriers to market entry for fintech firms, also those outside financial market law (e.g. legal treatment of virtual currencies and assets).”

During a press conference, Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer argued that the proposed fintech legislation would help draw in more companies – though the country’s accommodative stance has already led some blockchain startups to make their home in Switzerland.

"We assume that with the steps we have prepared and the commitment we have to the overall financial services industry we can provide a solution that puts us among the top (countries) in the world that regulate this," he said, according to Reuters.

Image via Shutterstock

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