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European HQ Bitmain-backed crypto firm Matrixport opens Zurich office

Bitcoin

The number of financial firms servicing crypto enthusiasts is growing in Switzerland.

(Keystone/ennio Leanza)

Singapore-based crypto financial services company Matrixport is setting up a European operations centre in Switzerland. Matrixport has close links to the Chinese cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain, which is simultaneously winding down its Swiss presence.

Matrixport joins a growing band of Swiss-based players, such as Bitcoin Suisse, Crypto Finance, Sygnum and SEBA banks, that are targeting crypto enthusiasts and institutional players like family offices, asset managers and private banks that want exposure to digital assets.

Registered under the name of Chaintech in Switzerland, Matrixport is fronted by former Bitmain co-founders Jihan Wu and John Ge. Having incorporated in Singapore, and with offices in China and Hong Kong, the recently formed venture wants to extend its offer of trading, lending and custody services from Asia to Europe through its new Zurich office.

It joins a handful of other ventures that have converted old military bunkers in the Swiss Alps to securely store bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For the time being, Matrixport will not offer its payment services in Europe, but the company says it might apply for a Swiss banking license at a later date.

In common with several crypto companies in Switzerland, Matrixport is currently a member of the self-regulatory body QVF, which is itself monitored by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

Hui Wang, Chief Operations Officer in Switzerland, says the company plans to recruit up to 10 staff within the next two years. “We will start on a modest scale initially as we establish our name in Europe and establish a pool of clients,” she told swissinfo.ch.

“We don’t intend to act as a channel for our Singapore HQ, simply referring clients to Asia. We will service our European clients from Switzerland,” she added.

Crypto Nation

While Matrixport says it will operate as a stand-alone company, it is backed by Bitmain - one of the world’s largest suppliers of hardware equipment to the bitcoin mining industry that generates cryptocurrencies by solving mathematical problems.

Bitmain has endured a bumpy road since the price of bitcoin peaked at the end of 2017 and then fell dramatically the following year. The company was forced to restructure and shelve plans to list on the Hong Kong stock market.

One of the casualties of Bitmain’s scale-back is its Zurich office that was opened to great fanfare in December 2017. This office was meant to spearhead Bitmain’s expansion into Europe, but is set to close its doors in the near future.

Switzerland has built up a global reputation as a “Crypto Nation” that serves as a hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain industries. The number of start-ups and supporting companies (legal, consulting and academic) had grown to around 600external link by the end of September, including representative offices of some of the largest global firms.

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