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Switzerland Embraces Crypto With Fund License for Startup Firm

Cryptocurrency mining rigs sit on racks at a Bitfarms facility in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada, on Thursday, July 26, 2018. Bitcoin has rallied more than 30 percent in July, shrugging off security and regulatory concerns that have plagued the virtual currency for much of this year.

(bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Crypto Finance AG has obtained the same license as professional fund managers from Switzerland’s financial regulator as the country pushes to become a leader in the growing virtual-currency industry.

The Zug-based company is now being recognized as an asset manager of collective investment schemes, meaning it can manage and distribute domestic and foreign funds and provide advice to investors, the company said.

“The importance of crypto assets is growing and our aim is to accelerate maturity in these markets," Chief Executive Officer Jan Brzezek said in a statement on Tuesday. “FINMA authorization is an important acknowledgment of Crypto Fund and for crypto assets around the world."

Obtaining the license removes a hurdle for the company of former UBS Group AG banker Brzezek, allowing it to cater to wider group of professional investors managing crypto funds in Switzerland after getting a license to distribute investment schemes in the country earlier this year.

With regulators globally pursuing crypto startups for non-compliance, companies from the U.S. to Europe have been seeking regulatory licenses to stand out from the pack and to appeal to jittery investors as the safer option. In the U.S., multiple companies have sought regulatory approvals and even acquired broker dealers to provide a broader offering of services, particularly to institutional investors.

‘Crypto Valley’

Switzerland is attempting to embrace cryptocurrency by positioning the lakeside town of Zug -- in a canton best known for low corporate tax rates -- as “Crypto Valley.” Finma issued guidelines earlier this year to companies wishing to raise money by selling their own digital currencies, after shutting down several coin providers for working without a banking license.

Seba Crypto AG, a Swiss financial services company run by ex-UBS bankers, recently said it raised 100 million francs ($101 million) and is seeking a banking license from Finma to become one of the world’s first regulated banks to let consumers easily swap dollars and euros into cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrencies have become part of the mainstream investment world after unprecedented price rallies last year, leading to increased regulatory scrutiny. Crypto Fund has said on its website that it was also seeking approval for a passive investment fund tracking an index of up to 10 of the largest and most liquid cryptocurrencies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Ross Larsen, Vernon Wessels

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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