The Switzerland base of multinational services giant and one of the so-called “Big Four” accounting firms, Ernst & Young (EY), will become the first of its kind to accept bitcoin as payment for its services.
Come January 2017, clients of EY Switzerland will be able to pay for the firm’s auditing and advisory services using bitcoin. The accounting giant claims to be the “first advisory firm to accept Bitcoins for its services,” in an announcement last week. The new payment method is a part of EY “digitizing itself”, the firm claimed, explaining its reason to accept the world’s most prominent digital currency.
Furthermore, EY also set up a bitcoin ATM among its offices, an installation which can be accessed by employees and the public alike.
Beyond the launch of a working Bitcoin ATM wherein anyone can swap Swiss francs for bitcoin and back, EY is also providing its employees with the EY wallet app, a digital wallet that enables them to make purchases with the cryptocurrency. The wallet app, developed in-house by EY, will be installed on company provided smartphones.
The move to embrace bitcoin and new technology by EY coincides with the wider societal nod toward digital currencies and blockchain technology across Switzerland.
Notable examples include that of SBB, Switzerland’s national railway operator, which announced an initiative to sell bitcoin through its ticketing kiosks. With over a thousand kiosks across the country, bitcoin can be purchased by new adopters and existing users over the next two years in the country. The service is already underway.
The idyllic lakeside town of Zug in Switzerland is also accepting bitcoin payments for municipality services, as a part of its pilot program that began in mid-2016.
“With bitcoin, we’re sending a message. We in Zug, want to get out in front of future technologies,” said Dolfi Müller, mayor of Zug which has gained the nickname “Crypto Valley” after seeing a number of Fintech companies set up bases in the town.
At EY, the installation of a bitcoin ATM and the acceptance of the cryptocurrency is all part of a hands-on program to familiarize employees with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, according to EY Switzerland CEO Marcel Stalder.
Stadler spoke about Switzerland’s role as a financial hub, underlining the need to stay ahead of the curve as a digital hub in the face of oncoming transformational changes brought on by cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology across industries.
In statements, Stadler said:
We don’t only want to talk about digitization, but also actively drive this process together with our employees and our clients. It is important to us that everybody gets on board and prepares themselves for the revolution set to take place in the business world through blockchains , smart contracts and digital currencies.
Images from EY Switzerland.