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‘Crypto Valley’ Zug to trial blockchain voting

The city of Zug framed by mountains
Zug has a policy of attracting blockchain technology to the area. Keystone

Zug will allow residents to take part in a blockchain-based test vote later this month, as the Swiss city mulls whether the technology can be used on a broader scale.

The small scale consultative vote will utilise the city’s eID system, which was set up in November of last year and currently counts around 200 users. Voters will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading the existing uPort app to register.

The move is another example of Zug’s welcoming attitude towards blockchain and the cryptocurrencies that run on the platform. Zug is already home to several blockchain start-ups, earning it the name “Crypto Valley”. The city also accepts payments for some services in cryptocurrencies.

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Between June 25 and July 1, residents will be invited to take part in Switzerland’s first municipal blockchain vote. As it is only a test, the results of the vote will be non-binding for city authorities.

Voters will be surveyed on whether they are in favour of fireworks at the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library or pay parking fees. Users will also be asked if the blockchain-based digital ID system should be used for regular referendum votes in future.

Push for digitalisation

Zug introduced its eID system to allow citizens digital access council services in a pilot phase starting last autumn. The system went further than others in use in Switzerland by putting it on the blockchain – a decentralised database that grants users full control over their data.

Canton Schaffhausen’s eID+ system, which is not run on blockchain, announced earlier this week that it will be fully launched following a successful test phase that began in December. This gives residents access via their smartphones to the canton’s tax, employment, road traffic, child protection and planning and other departments. Businesses will also be able to access the eID service.

Schaffhausen’s digital identity system was set up with help from the Swiss company Procivis.

Last year a consortium of private enterprises, including Swiss Post, the Swiss Federal Railways, the stock exchange operator, and several banks and insurance companies called SwissSignExternal link, launched a national digital SwissID system.

While not all eID systems are designed to be used for voting purposes, the Swiss government is keen to boost electronic voting in the country. It wants two-thirds of cantons to offer e-voting by the end of 2019.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR