The Crypto Valley Of Zug, Why Switzerland Is The Place To Be For Bitcoin, Ethereum And Blockchain Initiatives

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Coming to a city near you…

At first glance it might seem an unusual choice for the hottest tech location in Europe, if not EMEA, but Zug, named for its fishing rights is both a town and canton in Switzerland and home to a little under 30,000 residents. It is an affluent area, a low tax region and a base for several multinational companies. In 2001, it first sparked to international recognition when a disgruntled gunman shot 15 people, including himself, in the Zug Cantonal Parliament in what became known as the Zug Massacre.

This year, Zug was very much back in the news for quite different reasons. In January 2017 a not for profit organisation was formed: the Crypto Valley Association (CVA) headquartered in Zug and formed for the express purpose of attracting and supporting blockchain companies and organisations to Switzerland. Prior to the formal establishment of CVA, the Crypto Valley in Zug had been the brain child of Johann Grevers who based his cryptofinance startup Monetas in Zug in 2013. He outlined all sorts of positive reasons why Switzerland was attractive for blockchain companies and soon attracted broad support from numerous individuals, startups, corporates, service providers, industry associations, educational institutions, governments and regulators.

Grever’s own particular career has been recently mired by his own success. Tezos, which aimed to build a new digital commonwealth, used Grever’s ICO foundation company through which to raise money. They were successful, very successful with $232 million raised (and now worth twice that with inflation), but Grevers and the founders of Tezos are locked in a bitter infight. Sometimes the price of success is too high.

Zug itself carried on as a leading light for crypto companies. Ethereum incorporated in Zug in 2014 and the first bitcoin ATMs were installed. In 2015, Shapeshift located in Zug and in the same year the Swiss Federal council issued a report that bitcoins were regarded as a virtual currency and no further regulations were required.

The following year the Zug tax authority issued guidelines for the accounting and tax treatment of bitcoin and the city of Zug became the first government in the world to officially accept bitcoin payments.

Oliver Bussman, as President of the CVA, is overseeing a membership which is growing at an exponential rate. Since its foundation in January membership has grown to in excess of 500 members and that figure is growing at 30 new members per month. Membership fees are denominated in Swiss Francs (CHF) costing 100 CHF for an individual member and CHF 300 for a corporate.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Bussmann explained that unlike other ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs can expect to find every possible resource necessary for a successful token launch within a 30-mile radius of Crypto Valley.

“We have advisors helping with value proposition and token economy, seasoned legal experts, tax experts, accounting experts, people specialized in global marketing and global communications PR, secure ICO launch platforms, independent audit firms, smart contract audits, KYC, AML utilities and a community of investors looking to support the product.”

Switzerland has a lot of historic features which lends itself to the decentralised view of the world. Its own political system is based on a citizen-controlled ethos and boasts century’s old culture of individual rights. Coupled with Swiss neutrality, business-friendly environment and privacy-friendly financial and legal infrastructures, it is very successfully marketing itself as a hub for crypto friendly companies.

Last month, the CVA announced its first strategic partner in KPMG Switzerland. KPMG will be an active member and chair two working groups; one on Tax, Accounting and Structuring and the other on Cyber Security. But it is not just corporations that want in; a local hotel and restaurant, the Swiss Chalet Merlischachen, is now accepting bitcoin and ethereum as payment for its food and hospitality. It claims to be the first hospitality company in Zug to accept alt currency.

Zug and the Crypto Valley would seem a powerful advocate for all things blockchain. Their example is catching. Just a week ago, Ireland stepped up to the plate and announced its own crypto centre. Called Crypto Coast and headed up by blockchain veteran Reuben Godfrey, the Irish hub is seeking to do the same as Crypto Valley. However, where Switzerland and Zug may offer traditional financial expertise, Ireland’s Crypto Coast has based its foundation on a wealth of blockchain professionals and positive government support.

In conclusion, it’s not really a question of the Crypto Valley being in competition with the Crypto Coast and more a question of how soon the rest of the world will follow suit

Ireland Launches Crypto Coast Initiative For Blockchain Developers

First published in Cryptocoin.News

Reuben Godfrey, co-founder of the Blockchain Association of Ireland, used a talk at the Monaco Growth Forum in London last night to launch a major new crypto initiative in Ireland. His new project, Crypto Coast Ireland, is a play to attract blockchain commerce and development not just to Dublin, but down the East Coast of Ireland.

His message was that companies and crypto-centric entities can available of the same attractions offered in Dublin – but stretch further outside the high-cost city centre.

‘Ireland is a known destination for software development,’ Godfrey said. ‘Last year again we claimed the place of the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. We are known as the heart of ICT in Europe. It is no mistake that nine out of the top ten ICT companies in the world are located in Ireland.’

The attraction of Ireland to ICT companies remains the same; highly skilled work force, English as a native language, proximity to both US and the rest of Europe, and attractive corporate rates. The predominance of global technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, means the workforce is technology ready and already upskilled. In addition, the deep recession that affected Ireland, as indeed the rest of the world, did not impact on its burgeoning IT industry

Godfrey maintains that on Ireland’s Crypto Coast Blockchain is booming. ‘The rate of innovation and investment in this fast moving new technology is phenomenal with many comparing the upsurge in interest with early 1990s dot.com fever,’ he says.

Godfrey’s vision is to take this growth and move down Ireland’s East Coast – it’s new Crypto Coast. ‘With existing infrastructure and modern work practices there is no need for start-ups in this area to compete for space in an already congested Dublin city-centre. Indeed, many start-ups focus more on work life balance and community,’ argues Godfrey.

Blockchain start-ups have been attracted to Ireland to set-up their businesses. ‘The Crypto Coast  project aims to attract high potential blockchain start-ups to the coastal towns along the coast of Wicklow/Wexford in Ireland’s South East and foster a global crypto community,’ he says.

Godfrey is already in talks with various government and industry bodies to support this inspiring initiative. In addition, he is also gathering a team of top influencers to help carry through his vision.

Visit the Crypto Coast site here