Pressure builds on banks to offer Swiss crypto start-ups accounts

Switzerland’s drive to become a “Crypto Nation” has hit a road block: Swiss banks are unwilling to offer accounts to many blockchain start-ups. Following a personal intervention by Swiss finance minister, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) is now addressing the impasse. The bottleneck has become acute thanks to the extraordinary rise of cryptocurrencies and the initial coin offering (ICO) crowdfunding craze that attracted $1.46 billion (CHF1.45 billion) to Switzerland last year. Companies seeking ICO funds typically issue tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies, which they use as start-up capital. The ‘wild west’ ICO market has been peppered with high profile cases of fraud, scams and Ponzi schemes – one reason that practically all Swiss banks steer clear of this business. Having been stung by a calamitous tax evasion fight with the United States, Swiss banks are also now alarmed by what they see as money laundering risks associated with bitcoin and other digital tokens that ...

 
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