Geneva, Switzerland's new crypto capital?

Geneva, Switzerland's new crypto capital?

Lawyer Gabriel Jaccard (The Good Token Society) believes that in just a few years, Geneva has become a nerve centre for the crypto ecosystem in Switzerland. So much so that it can compete with the country's other cities, particularly Zurich and Zug, which have historically been the leaders in the country.

When you want to set up a blockchain project in Switzerland, you instinctively think of the "Crypto Valley" located in the cantons of Zug and Zürich. In this Swiss "Blockchain Nation" divided by cantons and united under the same flag, Geneva is sometimes forgotten, even though it has many assets in the sector.

Today, with its 500,000 inhabitants, a budget surplus of around 1.4 billion in 2023, a rising GDP and a competitive tax system, the Canton is more than ever recognised for its international attractiveness. Home to numerous international organisations and world-class companies, it occupies a strategic geographical position at the heart of Europe and is positioned as a leading financial centre offering a stable and secure environment for businesses.

More discreet on the subject of blockchain than its German-speaking neighbours, Geneva is nonetheless a hub for cybersecurity and a territory conducive to innovation and blockchain technologies. Indeed, the Canton is home to companies such as Taurus and Wecan, and is also home to projects such as Metaco (acquired in 2023 by Ripple), whose headquarters were recently established in Geneva, Mina Protocol and Lak3.

Active local community

There is currently a great deal of dynamism here, driven by a lively local community whose voice is represented by The Good Token Society association, of which I am a member. This association acts as a link and makes life easier for project initiators by, for example, enabling newcomers to the area - in a "plug-and-play" approach - to connect directly to useful contacts, qualified service providers and also the local authorities.

In fact, Switzerland positioned itself very early on as a pioneer in the field of blockchain. For example, we note that Swiss law - reputed to be very well adapted with regard to new blockchain business models - was largely amended in August 2021 through the "Lex DLT" with a view to providing greater legal clarity.

In reality, well adapted law on paper is not everything. At cantonal level, the authorities still need to decide to adopt a functional and voluntary approach to the subject. The fact is, a law that is applied without consideration will not last long.

All projects therefore depend on the canton and the political approach of its various authorities. In this respect, the Geneva authorities are not to be outdone and are actively supporting their ecosystem. In practice, this means that it is easy to obtain rulings, for example on tax or regulatory issues, the aim of which is to obtain (often within a few weeks) a concrete answer as to the regulations applicable to a project.

Aware of the challenges and opportunities offered by this digital revolution, the OCEI in Geneva facilitates the development of projects linked to this technology as part of its mission to develop the Canton's economy. In practical terms, this means mapping the players, facilitating access to government services, putting people in touch with each other and providing ad hoc assistance to project initiators.

It should also be noted that politicians are actively addressing blockchain-related issues, as demonstrated by the Geneva parliament's acceptance of the "Blockchain Geneva" motion.

A Renaissance under the water jet?

Every Renaissance begins with an Exodus, and Geneva has been marked several times in its history by an influx of knowledge that came to find exile in its city. Is this pattern repeating itself before our very eyes today? That's what I'm convinced.

Today, a brief overview of the blockchain issue abroad shows us an increasing tightening of crypto regulation, particularly in Europe and the USA, as well as the existence of often unsavoury alternatives from certain distant countries.

Faced with these uncertain horizons, Geneva stands as a solid rock where the word "possible" is present in the basic vocabulary. In this blue sky, however, there are still a few lingering storm clouds. Indeed, blockchain projects remain exotic and we note that many challenges remain, such as opening a bank account, which crypto companies have to face, even in Switzerland.

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