LeapRate Exclusive… Stefan Deiss is the co-founder and CEO of BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION, a global accelerator program designed to build start-ups and enterprises into successful blockchain-powered businesses.
Stefan joins Leaprate today to talk about BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION and the blockchain/cryptocurrency industry in Switzerland.
LR: Hi, Stefan, happy to have you at Leaprate. As a start, could you please introduce BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION? What does the company do?
Stefan: BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION is a Swiss-based global accelerator program established by an international team of experienced blockchain entrepreneurs and practitioners. Our team of blockchain experts enable start-ups and enterprises to launch successful blockchain-powered businesses and raise capital through traditional venture capital (VC), private equity placements, and token-based fundraising methods of asset tokenization and Security Token Offering (STO).
BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION believe in a culture of inclusiveness and value co-creation, thus offering equitable access to resources, opportunities, and networks to accelerate the global progression and adoption of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT). It enables the most promising of blockchain projects around the world to become high-growth and sustainable entities, contributing towards the further development of the global blockchain ecosystem.
Headquartered in the Crypto Valley, Switzerland, BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION has “Propulsion Hubs” in over 10 countries around the world, with plans for further expansion over the coming months. The program leverages experience and networks to provide start-ups and enterprises around the globe with a true end-to-end service offering, focussing on strategy, business model design, tokenomics, technology, marketing, tokenization, security, training, legal and regulatory matters.
LR: What are the major benefits of developing crypto / blockchain projects in Switzerland? Is there anything special about how the jurisdiction treats digital coins?
Stefan: There are a number of major benefits of developing blockchain/crypto projects in Switzerland. In terms of blockchain ecosystem, Switzerland is certainly one of the most advanced and leading jurisdictions in the world, with over 400 blockchain companies now domiciled in Canton of Zug, where BLOCKCHAIN PROPULSION is headquartered, a well-known blockchain ecosystem that has become widely known as the “Crypto Valley”. With that said, many blockchain companies are also setting up operations in other crypto-friendly cantons such as Zurich, Schwyz, Geneva (Libra Association), Neuchâtel, and Uri – Switzerland is becoming more known around the world as the “Crypto Nation”.
This leading position is further accentuated by the recent decision by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to award banking licenses to two Crypto Banks in Switzerland, namely SEBA and Sygnum. As we all know, setting up bank accounts has long been a major obstacle for projects looking to establish themselves as fully blockchain-powered businesses. In terms of crypto projects, it is no coincidence that Libra decided to set-up and develop its digital currency and infrastructure in Switzerland in order to benefit from the crypto-friendly regulatory environment, further enhancing Switzerland’s global reputation as the best place to develop a blockchain project in the world. This has obviously encouraged many blockchain/crypto projects from around the globe to move to Switzerland to build their blockchain projects and raise capital.
While there are a number of crypto-friendly environments emerging at the moment, not all are the best for doing business in terms of credibility. With a AAA credit rating, Switzerland has long been known as a great place to set up an international business.
LR: Regarding the US government visit to Switzerland, what do you think they will be most concerned about? For example, Maxine Waters just came out with her comments from the trip and she was rather cautious about how the Swiss government will regulate Libra?
Stefan: The US government is mostly concerned about anti-money laundering, data protection, and the potential threat that cryptocurrencies such as Libra will have on the US Dollar. Facebook’s decision to launch Libra has not only sparked significant interest in the blockchain and crypto space, but reaffirmed the growing importance of this new disruptive industry. This has obviously raised a few alarm bells in the US Congress who see Libra as a “national security threat”. There is growing concern in the crypto industry that some of the proposed US legislative measures could potentially quash more digital currencies than just Libra. Waters is still hesitant to allow big market players to develop a global alternative currency. And though government is right to be cautious, regulators have a responsibility to consider how new innovations will affect the global financial system.
LR: What are the major obstacles that the US is facing regarding the development of blockchain and cryptocurrency projects? Do you believe Switzerland has an advantage and what can the US learn from the country?
Stefan: Switzerland has first-mover advantage in this case. Over the last couple of years, Switzerland has successfully cultivated a crypto-friendly regulatory environment, making it one of the most attractive places in the world to set up a blockchain-powered business. It could be said that smaller nations have proven themselves to be the most agile in adopting new regulation to allow new technologies to flourish in a safe and controlled environment, while larger nations tend to move at a much slower pace. That the US has come to Switzerland to discuss Libra regulation, and the regulation of other crypto projects, is a positive thing which will open up dialogue on the subject from another perspective. There’s certainly a lot that the US can learn from Switzerland – for example, by positively engaging with the crypto industry rather than working against it. By working alongside projects to help them succeed in a regulated and secure environment, the US could take advantage of the surge in innovation around blockchain and crypto projects.
LR: What are countries that do not have a clear regulatory framework or desire to develop cryptocurrencies missing out on, in your view?
Stefan: Countries who fail to provide a clear regulatory framework in blockchain and cryptocurrencies risk stifling innovation and entrepreneurship. They are essentially risking a flight of brain power because, if businesses can’t build and work on projects in one jurisdiction, they will simply move to another one with a crypto-friendly jurisdiction such as the Crypto Nation of Switzerland.