The head of the Swiss stock exchange told the Financial Times that his country would benefit from its own cryptocurrency, according to a report on the matter by that newspaper.
Romeo Lacher said that such a move would give the country a competitive lead, adding: “I don’t like cash.” A dislike of money is an attitude that some might find surprising in a chairman of SIX Group, but Lacher has held the post since January 2017 nevertheless. He said of the ‘e-franc’: “I believe there would be a lot of upsides, we would be strongly supportive.”
Switzerland has been one of the more progressive countries in Europe on the subject of cryptocurrency, so his remark isn’t particularly surprising – it was the Swiss financial watchdog that became the first in Europe to regulate ICOs, for example. FINMA focused on economic function and money-laundering controls when assessing them, and in the end classified some as securities, and some not, in a very forward-thinking approach.
The Crypto Valley Association in the town of Zug, a kind of Silicon Valley for cryptocurrencies, is another example of the country becoming a bit of a European capital for cryptocurrency. Basel was the host city of an international discussion on digital crime in January, to name one more supporting example.
Switzerland would be far from the first country to mess around with its own cryptocurrency. From South America to the Baltics to the Middle East, we are compiling quite a list of countries that have expressed interest and/or concrete plans to develop themselves a new currency. All, however, are taking their cue from Venezuela.
The South American state has actually gone ahead and released its coin, the Petro, already. The Petro is backed by the country’s plentiful oil reserves, and President Maduro hopes that this will become a lifeline for his stricken economy and a way to circumvent US sanctions. In Venezuela this is a case of necessity being the mother of invention, while for Switzerland the matter is obviously far less urgent.
The same goes for Estonia, which is one of the most economically successful of the former Soviet republics. The tiny Baltic state has been working on its ‘Estcoin‘ for a while now.
Switzerland and Estonia notwithstanding, most countries that have announced a national cryptocurrency have done so because their economic or political situation is less than ideal.
Iran, for example, has officially confirmed that it is testing a new currency, although receiving an official confirmation depends on who you ask. Russia has been talking about a ‘cryptoruble‘ since last year. One of Vladimir Putin’s economic advisors said: “This instrument suits us very well for sensitive activity on behalf of the state.” For both of these countries, a national cryptocurrency would be a way to circumvent international pressure.
Moving on to Turkey, the religious supervisor of the Turkish government proclaimed that cryptocurrency was not compatible with Islam, and then that same government quickly noted that cryptocurrency is not actually illegal because it is not written about in the law. In February of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simse told CNN that we will soon see a Turkish national cryptocurrency.
The Swiss National Bank said in response to Lacher’s comment that there is “no need” for a such a currency. It added in comments made to the Financial Times that cash-based and cashless payment transactions in Switzerland were working smoothly.