Swiss Bankers Association’s New Guidelines Support Blockchain Firms

News | September 21, 2018 By:

The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has published guidelines that include promoting conditions that support the sustainable growth of companies involved in blockchain technology.

Founded in 1912, SBA is the primary industry group representing Swiss banks to the government of Switzerland and to the governments of other states. Its main goal is to maintain and promote the best possible framework conditions for the actors of the Swiss financial center both at home and abroad.

The guidelines, developed with the help of the Crypto Valley Association (CVA), are intended to help banks take a differentiated approach to account opening, depending on the nature of the connections that the company has with blockchain technology. The SBA has divided blockchain firms into two categories – blockchain companies seeking to raise capital through an initial coin offering (ICO) and blockchain companies without an ICO.

According to the guidelines, companies which do not fundraise through ICOs should not be treated any differently to other small medium enterprises (SME) customers wanting to open an account.

“Companies have a duty to cooperate in the opening of banking relationships,”the SBA said. “They need to be able to demonstrate that they are aware of and adhere to all regulations applicable to their business models. This includes being able to show a meaningful business plan and adequate processes and resources.”

For companies that organize ICOs, the SBA said higher and additional requirements should be imposed, whether or not they are subject to the anti-money laundering act.

“The guidelines recommend that the ICO organizer should apply the relevant Swiss standards on the origin of funds (KYC) and money laundering (AML) when accepting cryptocurrencies under an ICO,” the SBA said. “It is also proposed that the acceptance of cryptocurrencies under ICOs should be treated as a minimum in the same way as a cash transaction.”

Oliver Bussmann, President of the Crypto Valley Association, said that they have seen a lot of positive growth in the ecosystem over the past 18 months and now it was very important that the SBA, CVA and authorities could come together and successfully work on a solution that can ease some of the restrictions that could hamper the continuation of that growth.

Dr Mattia Rattaggi, who chairs the CVA Regulatory Working Group, said that the guidelines are an important and timely contribution.

“As a multi-stakeholder organization it was important for us at the CVA to bring a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to the table for the development of these guidance and we hope that it will benefit the healthy advancement of the crypto/blockchain industry in Switzerland,” Rattaggi said.