The head of Switzerland's Federal Department of Finance, Ueli Maurer, said earlier this year that he believes cryptocurrencies are no more than "speculation." However, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), Switzerland’s financial regulator, released on Monday guidelines for its new "FinTech" license, which will allow companies, including those involved in the blockchan and cryptospheres, to accept public deposits of up to 100 million Swiss francs (CHF), or around $100M. Companies can start to apply for the license from 2019, and will not be allowed to invest the deposits or pay interest on them.
"To boost innovative financial companies, the Swiss parliament has introduced the new FinTech licence – a licence with relaxed requirements," read FINMA's statement.
Despite what FINMA describes as "relaxed requirements," any company interested in a license must provide information including: a full business and financial plan, a description of how customer money is stored, declarations of conflicts of interest, and the identity, address, CV, criminal record, any current legal proceedings, and all the business interests of every member of the project.
"Switzerland has a great hand of cards when it comes to the development and use cases of the blockchain technology. Switzerland will be leading the way in blockchain development and use cases."
Switzerland's relative swiftness in regulatory matters has seen the creation of places like Crypto Valley in Zug, and Trust Square, the biggest blockchain hub in the world, in Zurich.
By the end of the year, the Blockchain/ICO report by a working group set up by the Swiss Federal Council will publish its findings, which will include recommendations to amend six laws. The aim is to receive approval from parliament in 2019 so they could go into effect by early 2020.
"Switzerland doesn’t need new special regulations for blockchain. But we will have to amend six existing laws, to include this new technology, that will impact many industries in the future," Maurer said on Monday. "Switzerland has a great hand of cards when it comes to the development and use cases of the blockchain technology. Switzerland will be leading the way in blockchain development and use cases."
But while Maurer, who served as the president of Switzerland in 2013 and has been the finance minister since 2016, continues to reaffirm the country's backing of blockchain, he doesn't mince words regarding digital currencies.
"Cryptocurrencies are in the near time not so important for blockchain. Blockchain technology will be more important for business models and for access between state and citizens," said Maurer in previously unpublished remarks made during a visit to Israel for the second Swiss-Israel Financial Dialogue back in September. "The technology is [what is] important and crypto is just some speculation. Blockchain technology is very important for business in the future."