Will the crypto-world of Switzerland be what the banking secret was for decades: a goose laying golden eggs? An entrepreneur in the sector recently told me that his company employs an average of two people a week. Another company, based in the canton of Vaud, doubled its workforce in six months, that is, more than 40 jobs, seven of them in Switzerland.
And it continues. Although cryptocurrencies are going through a turbulent period, marked by the collapse of the stablecoin TerraUSD (UST), the French-speaking companies with whom Heidi.news discussed in recent weeks do not downgrade their ambitions. Therefore, we wanted to make a map.
French-speaking Switzerland could have invoked its safe and traditional values: watchmaking, banking, engineering or tourism. Moreover, the canton of Zug seemed to have taken a step forward. And yet it is a real flare-up that we are witnessing around Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchâtel.
Most cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin at the forefront, have lost a lot of value in recent months. The sector is full bear market (downward trend) and no one knows how long this will last. Many projects will struggle to raise funds – and some of them will not survive.
A bad for a good, according to many actors. This phase of restructuring is not a new phenomenon. The year 2017, the year for all superlatives with the popularization of fundraising via tokens (first coin offer, ICO), had reached record highs before seeing the market collapse. At the time, some predicted the end of Bitcoin, which they said was based on nothing.
The price of the main cryptocurrency is actually experiencing large variations and the future is uncertain.
But do not panic: Everyone who believes in Bitcoin is convinced that it will pick up speed again in 2024. Why? For that year a new one will happen halving. Or a halving, planned every four years, of the premium awarded to miners, these keys in cryptocurrency. Since 2009, each halving was accompanied by an explosion in the value of Bitcoin.
A bubbly French-speaking Switzerland
Of course, Bitcoin is no longer the only cryptocurrency today. There are thousands of them. All with their special circumstances, and above all their promises to make it better or different. In addition, new applications, made possible by blockchain: decentralized financing (DeFi) or non-fungible tokens (NFT). Many companies are heading into this turbulent world. In French-speaking Switzerland, the dynamics of this ecosystem are particularly noticeable in Neuchâtel (leader in the field), Vaud and Geneva.
What characterizes this universe is the diversity of its propositions. Of course, there are financial intermediaries that are essential, but not only. There are alternative cryptocurrency projects, such as Alephium, traceability and authentication of luxury goods in the secondary market with Origyn or online anonymity retention with Nym.
And even among financial intermediaries, business models are varied. Some offer exchange platforms with services for storing digital assets, others specialize in mortgages, some develop integration solutions for banks or specialize in tokenization (issuance of tokens). Most are fully digital asset-focused companies, but others with a long history in traditional finance, such as Swissquote, have jumped on the bandwagon.
Heidi.news proposes to paint a portrait of this rich ecosystem by listing its ten main actors in French-speaking Switzerland. It is not a classification: our choices include part of subjectivity. By diving into the heart of these ten companies’ business models, we realize how much this sector is growing and not lacking ideas or ambitions.
From the shadow to the light
The French-speaking cantons have understood this and are now expressing their interest more markedly. In April, the authorities organized an economic promotion event at the Swiss Embassy in Paris to inform French actors about the framework conditions in our country. Purpose: to promote relocations.
If the sector has long been marginalized and subject to controversy, it now looks like it will continue to evolve. On June 24, 2022, two Neuchâtel Councilors will officially attend an event entitled “The Bitcoin Paradigm”. On the same day, the city of Neuchâtel hosts the Repas du Coin, an event organized by the association Le Cercle du Coin, which allows crypto players to meet and discuss cryptocurrencies.
Of course, there are still questions, especially about the regulation of crypto activities, in Europe or in Switzerland.
Despite headwinds, the sector continues to expand in French-speaking Switzerland, with innovation as the watchword.