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New Swiss stock exchange (gingerly) mulls cryptocurrencies

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A new trading platform for tokenised digital assets will open in Switzerland by the middle of next year. Keystone

A Swiss digital stock exchange, designed to trade tokenised assets from next year, is playing coy on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens that do not qualify as securities. The established financial industry is wary of the new asset class, but SIX Group is not ruling it out.

SIX Group, which runs Switzerland’s stock exchanges, announced a week ago that it would launch its digital trading platform by mid-2019. But will the bridge between traditional and digital financial services eventually allow for the conversion of bitcoin to francs? 

More asked SIX Group spokesman Stephan Meier for some more details. Will the SIX Digital Exchange allow the trading of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin?

Stephan Meier: With the new service we will provide a safe environment for issuing and trading digital assets, and enable the tokenisation of existing securities and non-bankable assets to make previously untradeable assets tradeable. 

Currently we are focusing on building the platform and no decision has yet been made as to which specific products will be offered to list and trade. So it is also still open whether cryptocurrencies or already existing ICO tokens can be traded. But we will technically be able to add various digital assets to the platform. 

Importantly, each new digital asset will go through a due diligence process which will help to decide if it will be part of our offering on the exchange or not. Would direct conversion from crypto to fiat be possible within this system?

S.M: It is also still open whether cryptocurrencies can be traded and how a conversion into fiat would be facilitated. What are the non-bankable assets that the exchange could host in future?

S.M: Non-bankable assets are assets that are hardly tradable in today’s environment and therefore operate in a less liquid market. We will assess the offering in close collaboration with the market participants and will communicate that accordingly. How exactly will the exchange help clients develop their ICOs? 

S.M: The aim is to utilise SIX’s existing capabilities around IPO consultancy services and build a stronger value proposition around guiding companies who are looking to raise capital by using an Initial Coin Offering. The service offering will capture the complete value chain from ICO advisory, to listing and trading services. Market participants will be able to develop their business models in the ecosystem. What does this mean exactly?

S.M: For the market participants there is a real need to establish transparency and accountability in the crypto-world. They are seeking a stable, fair, trustworthy and reliable environment in which they can list, trade and convert digital assets. 

Not only traditional financial service providers and investors are interested in this, but also numerous companies and investors who want to take advantage of the new digital opportunities for raising capital and trading in digital assets. 

We want to build a bridge between the traditional financial services and digital communities. Ultimately, we want to make the essential functions of a regulated exchange accessible to them and provide a secure framework for financing entrepreneurial projects and investment decisions. Is there a need to update Swiss law to allow for the trade of tokens with underlying financial assets? 

S.M: Various factors play a role in the question of how digital assets can be recorded under current Swiss law. We are in close consultation with the legislator and the regulators and will examine in which areas adjustments or additions to the legal framework may be necessary and where current regulations are sufficient or can be brought in line with technical developments.

You can contact Matt Allen, the author of this story on TwitterExternal link.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR