Mihai Alisie is the co-founder of Ethereum, one of the blockchain pioneers that settled in Zug in 2014. The rapid success of Ethereum attracted many more blockchain companies in and around the area of Zug and made Greater Zurich a well-known hub for crypto and blockchain businesses.
What makes Switzerland particularly suitable for cryptocurrency businesses?
M. Alisie: I believe Switzerland is a great place for cryptocurrency businesses and blockchain initiatives for many reasons: First, it is strategically placed in the heart of Europe. There are several airports well connected with the whole world. Furthermore, decentralization as a mindset is deeply embedded in Switzerland with its different cantons. I believe, that’s why blockchain as a concept is seen more as an opportunity for improvement here whereas in other countries, where there is more of a top-down hierarchy, blockchain is rather viewed as a threat. When we came to Switzerland with Ethereum, we were pleasantly surprised to see the openness and forward-thinking attitude of the Canton of Zug and of other authorities. This reassured us that we had made the right choice.
What was your experience coming to Switzerland?
We looked at several different jurisdictions, from Singapore, UK, Germany, to the Netherlands and a few others. Switzerland was also appealing because it was as an established financial nexus. We expected them to be open to the opportunity of increasing efficiency and reducing costs. As a settlement experience, it was incredible because in less than a month, we managed to get from having a vague idea to talking with the local economic development team of Zug. And that’s when the phrase “Crypto Valley” was born: During our meetings, I was arguing how Switzerland and Zug in particular could become a nexus of innovation, a global hub for businesses all around the world that want to develop on top of blockchain as a platform, Ethereum in this case.
What is Switzerland’s main advantage compared to other jurisdictions?
When a government tries to control a new technology such as blockchain and to lead its integration, it can be limiting because it is still too early to understand all this technology can do. I think here lies the main advantage of Switzerland over other jurisdictions: its hands-off approach and its focus on creating an environment that fosters innovation so that use cases can be explored. The situation can be compared to the early days of the internet, when nobody knew that it can be used for so many other things than just black dots on a white background. If we had tried to limit its use, I’m sure we wouldn’t have seen all the applications that we now consider normal, from social networking to video streaming and so on.
Another advantage of Switzerland is its long tradition of protecting privacy. Even though you might argue that privacy is dead, Switzerland is one of the last beacons of hope for entrepreneurs and individuals who still care about it. Especially in blockchain, individuals care about privacy, I think. So, for entrepreneurs, it’s a big plus to operate in a space where there are strong privacy laws and a stable environment.
This success story was first published by Switzerland Global Enterprise.
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