Swiss Bankers Association eases bank account requirements for crypto startups

New guidelines make it easier for banks to deal with crypto and blockchain startups while reducing the potential risks of offering services to the space

The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has published guidelines for opening corporate accounts for blockchain startups in collaboration with officials at the country’s tech hub known as Crypto Valley.

The aim is to make it easier for its members to deal with cryptocurrency startups while helping banks lower the risks in offering services to the crypto-blockchain industry.

“The number of blockchain companies in Switzerland has risen sharply,” says the association in a statement. “The SBA welcomes this trend and takes a positive view of the high market momentum, as it boosts Switzerland’s attractiveness as a financial centre.”

Blockchain opportunities

The SBA says banks are now seeing the opportunities blockchain technology brings to the country’s financial sector.

“Within the context of its priorities, the SBA promotes and supports an innovation-friendly environment in the digitalisation arena,” it adds. “This also includes promoting conditions that support the sustainable growth of companies involved in blockchain technology.”

Swiss startups have voiced complaints against banks that have turned down their applications to open accounts.

SBA warnings

The SBA warned banks to be particularly careful when dealing with startups that launch initial coin offerings (ICOs), especially if they accept other cryptocurrencies as payment for their newly issued tokens.

The guidelines also recommend banks to strictly adhere to the highest Swiss standards in regard to the origin of assets and prevention of money laundering.

“We have seen a lot of positive growth in the ecosystem over the past 18 months and it was very important that the SBA and CVA could come together and work on a solution that can ease some of the restrictions that could hamper the continuation of that growth,” says Oliver Bussmann, President of the Crypto Valley Association (CVA).

Dr Mattia Rattaggi, Chairman of the CVA Regulatory Working Group, comments: “As a multi-stakeholder organisation it was important for us to bring a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to the table for the development of these guidelines and we hope that it will benefit the healthy advancement of the crypto and blockchain industry in Switzerland.”

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