Cryptocurrency foundations, community organizations, and entrepreneurs have helped put the lightly populated Swiss canton of Zug on the business world’s map. While the local administration has created one of the most welcoming environments for the industry, some voices fear possible negative repercussions such as bad press and an American regulatory backlash.
Lamborghini Robin Hoods
A new report from Zug, Switzerland by the Financial Times showcases that despite the success ‘Crypto Valley’ has had in attracting businesses, there are still those that fear it might bring unwanted attention as well. A Swiss finance specialist commented: “I’m just waiting for Washington to call Bern and ask ‘what are you doing down there in Zug?’.” Another local insider said: “They say they are different to banks, that they are Robin Hoods — but we have Robin Hoods driving around in Lamborghinis.”
Besides flashy displays of wealth, critics also echo other familiar complaints. “My big worry is that the whole intransparency will lower Zug’s standing worldwide,” said Andreas Hürlimann, a local Green party councillor. “You don’t know from where to where the money is flowing, whether it is drug money for instance.” He also added that the council accepting bitcoin payments was “clearly a marketing gag”.
For their part, the entrepreneurs appear to be pleased with the region’s politicians and regulations. The only issue they raised in the FT report was reluctant cooperation by the local banks, something that they can bypass by turning to other places such as Liechtenstein.
The main concern that rises from the report is that some ICO could mess up in a way that will bring foreign pressure to harshen the local legal framework for all others. “Switzerland remains under pressure to follow a ‘clean money’ strategy. It was hard work to get Switzerland off the blacklists — and there is of course no appetite for it to be back on them,” explained Jan Seffinga, blockchain expert at Deloitte.
“These ICOs require blind trust in the founders. You can’t do much if the raised funds are misappropriated,” commented Luzius Meisser, founder of the Bitcoin Association Switzerland. Heinz Tännler, Zug canton’s finance director, said: “The risk is when you have ‘black sheep’. We have our eyes open. But there is never an opportunity without risks.”
Still others seem to be overwhelmed by the fast development of ‘Crypto Valley’. Dolfi Müller, Zug town council president, said: “We play the background music . . . We don’t have great plans — we don’t want to be a ‘smart city’ like Dubai. It’s step by step. It’s Asterix against Rome.”
Should the people of Zug be grateful for ICOs bringing business to their community or cautious? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Author: Avi Mizrahi