In the latest twist of geopolitics ahead of a potential crypto G20 summit Switzerland has begun waving the crypto flag with their Economics Minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, stating according to a rough translation:
“The Canton of Zug, the Cryptovalley, has come a long way. There we can gain experience. If the experiences in Zug are positive, we can extend that to the nation. Therefore the statement: It does not need to stay with Cryptovalley, it should become the crypto-nation.”
Zug is home to a number of blockchain companies, including the Ethereum Foundation, where they have found support by local governments and now seemingly the national government.
“The country has grown big by everything that means innovation,” the Swiss Economics Minister says before further adding:
“Now we have arrived at an innovative moment in the financial world. Cryptocurrencies are part of the fourth industrial revolution. We look at what possibilities can arise from it.
For my part, I try to identify the opportunities, the risks and the opportunities, and decide: Is this a future business with future jobs or is it not? That’s why I support the circles that deal with it.”
The minister says it is too early to regulate cryptocurrencies as the experience is too low and it is not clear what direction the innovation might go.
In a potential hint of Switzerland’s approach in any crypto G20 summit suggested by France and Germany, the minister says:
“We are who we are. We must and want to be able to determine our own future. We make our experiences and of course we make cross-comparisons with the neighbors and the distant competitors.”
Switzerland is not in the EU, with the country retaining neutrality, sovereignty and independence, which is partly what made it attractive to blockchain companies.
Their strong support for crypto is seemingly in direct contrast to France’s apparent distaste for this space with the French Minister stating regarding bitcoin: “I don’t like it.”
French industry and finance is far behind in this space when looking at the global picture. While German industry has made some strides and is even far ahead in some ways, their finance industry remains far behind.
The two are proposing tough regulations in a G20 summit, potentially to chain their competitors, including the City of London, Switzerland, Silicon Valley, and maybe even Tokyo, but the Swiss minister says:
“Above all, we are not naïve: we do what we can find to be sustainable and promising, with all the energy and joy.”
That might indicate any co-ordination at a G20 level might be very difficult if at all possible as their strategic interests are so different when it comes to this space, with some far ahead benefiting from a booming industry and billions in investments, like Switzerland, while some others, such as France, are far behind.
The timing of a proposed crypto G20 summit, moreover, might be suspect. UK, which alone in Europe can stand to Germany or France, might be in a weak position due to their Brexit negotiations, but Britain has seen their Fintech industry boom and has championed it fully, so their civil service might live up to their reputation of astute.
Unfortunately America continues to disappoint. Trump found backing in the blockchain constituency because of his promises to back innovation, but his Treasury Secretary does not seem very keen on crypto.
If they keep up, those blockchain votes might go somewhere else in the next election, although the Democrats unfortunately have not been much better.
That means the regulatory leadership position is open. Switzerland is a contender, as is London of course once they stop being obsessed with Brexit. Estonia too, but they are in the EU thus under the umbrella of Germany and France. Japan might be a wildcard to watch, but we’ll have to see now how the crypto politics develops in the next few months.