The Greater Zurich Area - and with it the world-famous Crypto Valley - has developed into a world center of the blockchain industry. Switzerland's tech-libertarian setting and unique decentralized democratic system is the ideal home and natural partner to blockchain/DLT businesses.
The Blockchain revolution
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. This is why Switzerland is considered to be one of the most crypto-friendly nations in the world with Swiss banks being among the first to accept Bitcoin and give crypto companies access to business accounts.
In the whole of Switzerland, 1,135 blockchain-related companies were counted as of 2022 according to Switzerland Global Enterprise. Over 750 of those companies are located in the Greater Zurich Area.
The success story of Crypto Valley
Back in 2013, the crypto-finance startup Ethereum moved their headquarter 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. In line with cryptographic use, the pioneers of Zug’s fintech scene have dubbed the region ‘Crypto Valley’ and soon Crypto Valley was on everyone’s lips. Since then over 300 companies with international profiles such as Cardano, Polkadot, Consensys, Lykke, or Xapo followed. Also, 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.
Since its start, Crypto Valley has expanded far beyond the borders of Zug with leading blockchain ecosystems in Zurich or Ticino. The southern Swiss canton hosts many crypto-related companies, the city of Lugano has even implemented its own blockchain-based payment token “LVGA” and in many shops payments with crypto are possible and encouraged. To further boost the blockchain infrastructure, “Lugano’s Plan B” was started in collaboration with stable coin leader Tether.
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".
Ideal conditions and frameworks for crypto companies and unicorns
The fintech ecosystem in Greater Zurich also brings forth future pioneering companies: according to the CV VC Top 50 Report 2022, there are 9 unicorns present in the region – 7 blockchain platforms and 2 commercial companies. These unicorns have a combined estimated market value of over 1 billion US dollars according to Switzerland Global Enterprise. The biggest crypto unicorn in Switzerland is 21.co with offices located in both the city of Zug and city of Zurich: Launched in 2018 by Ophelia Snyder and Hany Rashwan, 21.co was founded to build bridges into the crypto world. Since then, the company has been on a mission to stay at the forefront of the market by providing investors with innovative crypto exchange-traded products and the broadest token solutions.
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.
Fintech & blockchain in the Greater Zurich Area
Fintech & blockchain in the Greater Zurich Area
Where world-class technology meets Swiss reliability
The Greater Zurich Area has evolved into a global fintech and blockchain hub, thanks to factors like access to talent, leading research institutes, innovation-friendly regulators, investors and industry partners. Switzerland, and particularly Crypto Valley in the Greater Zurich Area, has been at the forefront of digitization and disruptive technologies, and start-ups in the area have access to a variety of incubators and accelerators that support them in establishing a company and developing ideas and products.
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