Author

Dr. Yves Mauchle

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On September 11, 2019, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has issued guidance on the regulatory treatment of stable coins. As a supplement to the previously issued ICO Guidelines, FINMA outlines how it treats stable coins under the Swiss regulatory framework. In this connection, FINMA also gives initial indications on the request for a regulatory assessment filed by the Geneva-based Libra Association, a high-profile cryptocurrency project orchestrated by Facebook Inc. There is no special…

The trend of established banks partnering with technology companies to offer digital asset-related services continues in Switzerland.  Around the end of February 2019, Julius Baer, one of Switzerland’s largest and oldest banks, announced plans to offer access to digital assets through a partnership with SEBA Crypto, a Swiss-based start-up. This development follows similar arrangements between technology companies and other established banks such as Falcon Private Bank, Vontobel, and Gazprombank. This trend underscores Switzerland’s reputation as…

On the 23rd and 24th November 2018, the Blockchain Leadership Summit was held in Basel, Switzerland. The participating leaders represented states (for example, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat), blockchain businesses, the finance sector, academia as well as various industries. Manuel Meyer and Yves Mauchle of Baker McKenzie Zurich held a workshop on structuring an initial coin offering. The first topic of the workshop was the regulatory categorization of the token based on its underlying economic…

On November 30, 2018, the Federal Council (the highest executive authority of Switzerland) published the implementing rules governing the newly introduced Swiss “innovator license.”  The Swiss Parliament has recently enacted this new license category. Younger companies, in particular from the fintech and blockchain space, often engage in taking deposits from the public. Until recently, this activity was reserved for banks. However, fintechs that operate payment systems, including such systems based on cryptocurrencies or other blockchain…

Up to now, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has taken no official position on how to consider cryptoassets for the Basel III capital requirements or liquidity ratios for banks and securities dealers. According to current media reports, however, FINMA is said to have revealed its practice on the issue in a confidential letter sent to EXPERTsuisse, an association representing Swiss trustees and accountants, on October 15, 2018. The following is a summary of…

On 22 November 2018, there was a first at SIX Swiss Exchange: Swiss-based startup Amun AG obtained the first license worldwide to offer an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) based on multiple crypto-currencies on a regulated stock exchange. The ETP gives investors access to a diversified, weighted and automatically re-balanced basket of the top four most liquid crypto-assets: Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin. Each cryptocurrency was allocated a certain share within the fully secured ETP, with…

Crypto Fund AG, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Crypto Finance AG, received authorization from the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to act as an Asset Manager defined under the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA). The Press Release from Crypto Finance AG states that Crypto Fund AG, now being an authorized Asset Manager, is permitted to “manage and distribute domestic and foreign investment funds to qualified investors and provide investment advice for institution clients.” This…

During 2017, the issue that probably got the most attention for companies raising capital through initial coin offerings (ICOs) was whether tokens constitute securities.  However, governmental agencies and regulators, particularly the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (“FINMA”), focused on other legal issues as well. It was reiterated that companies issuing cryptocurrencies or tokens have to consider not only securities registration but also anti-money laundering and licensing compliance. It has also become clear that blockchain-related businesses…