The Greater Zurich Area - and with it the world-famous Crypto Valley - has developed into a world center of the blockchain industry. It is no secret that Switzerland is a formidable place to run a business. This is especially true for blockchain projects as Greater Zurich not only convinces with business-friendly, pragmatic regulatory environment and a deep-rooted sense of privacy protection but triumphs with a high concentration of peer companies, service providers and world-renowned research institutions, all working together in order to push the boundaries of the blockchain application scope. Switzerland's tech-libertarian setting and unique decentralized democratic system is the ideal home and natural partner to blockchain/DLT businesses.
The success story of Greater Crypto Valley
Back in 2013, the crypto-finance startup Monetas and Ethereum moved their headquarters to Zug in the Greater Zurich Area, establishing a vision of a global hub for blockchain technologies and attracting stakeholders from all over the world. Soon Crypto Valley was on everyone’s lips. Since then over 300 companies such as ShapeShift, Bitmain, Lisk, Consensys, Xapo or Bancor followed and blockchain incubators, regulatory bodies, tech-savvy authorities, university chairs, events started to form an unparalleled ecosystem of innovation, pragmatism and mutual trust. Today people can register their ID on the cantonal blockchains, pay fees and form companies with digital assets. And this is just the beginning since the National Minister of Economy declared Switzerland will become "Crypto Nation" the ground for more is paved.
Decentralized government for decentralized technologies
Asking blockchain pioneers about their main reasons for moving their project to the Greater Zurich Area, they all praise Switzerland's stability and tradition of trust, as well as the positive regulatory dynamics and forward-thinking approach on setting guidelines for crypto startups. Early on Switzerland chose a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach to regulating new innovation – following the principle "to regulate as little as possible and as much as necessary." Banking license regulations for example were softened for startups – creating a sandbox environment - and SRO options have been accepted, which are vividly in use. And last but not least, the financial center in Greater Zurich is recognized internationally as one of the world’s most developed, ensuring the necessary infrastructure and expertise. Due to the unique Swiss conditions and its "neutral, balanced approach", Olga Feldmeier, former Commercial Managing Partner at Xapo and CEO of Smart Valor, declares Xapo's decision to settle in Switzerland as "one of the [company's] most important strategic decisions".
The Ecosystem – pulling together is key!
The fact that so many companies are now settled in the area makes it the most competitive in terms of concentration of talent. Or in the words of Paul Meeusen, CEO of B3i, a global blockchain initiative of the insurance industry: “The talent pool in and around Zurich for blockchain solutions is outstanding, and we are in constant exchange with innovative players in the region.” Not only C2C business is picking up but also Swiss cantons and universities like the ETH Zurich, the Institute of Financial Services Zug, or the University of Zurich's Blockchain Center, are now collaborating with blockchain startups and creating exclusive courses in order to foster the next generation of developers and engineers.
A vivid example of this close collaboration between stakeholders academic institutions and private companies is the blockchain hub “Trust Square” located in the financial heart of Zurich, just opposite the Swiss National Bank: It is not only home to blockchain entrepreneurs and researchers from 5 state Universities; the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the University of Zurich, but thanks to Trust Square's broad focus, inclusive and non-hype-ist approach it enjoys active support from the cantonal authorities, gives established companies, parties and regular people a platform to interact and gain mutual understanding – for example with free blockchain courses and initiatives for women. This replenishes and strengthens Greater Zurich’s standing as a location for digital innovation and complements the varied blockchain ecosystem in the region, which already consists of university institutions and numerous startups.