Swiss Federal State Could See its Own Digital Currency

February 22, 2017 15:54 UTC

Ticino, a federal state in southern tip of Switzerland could soon see its very own local digital currency called ‘Ticinocoin’, if the two computer scientists behind the cryptocurrency had their way.

Sharing a border with Italy as its neighbor, the canton (federal state) of Ticino is a predominantly Italian-speaking region in the south of Switzerland.

The goal is to value a single unit of TicinoCoin (TIC) to the equivalent of one Swiss franc, according to the Tribune deGeneve. Deployment or issuance of TICs would require approval by FINMA, Switzerland’s financial regulator that isn’t averse to embracing financial technologies and innovations.

While details remain scarce, the pilot phase of the project was reportedly completed last week.

Conceived by computer scientists Claudio Rossini and Michele Fiscalini, the blockchain-based digital currency is developed by its founders to promote the local economy and more perhaps even help those in need.

Speaking to Caffe, a regional publication, Fiscalini stated:

If we can use Ticinocoin to fund a pilot project throughout Ticino, we can link [the currency] to unconditional basic income, if we found a way to fund such a proposal without relying heavily on the state’s resources.

If the digital currency is put into use, Fiscalini adds that it could save administrative costs for the region, while every transaction is recorded and secured on a blockchain, visible to everyone.

“There are already terminals that merchants could use to collect TicinoCoin” claims Fiscalini.

TicinoCoin’s developers envision a local cryptocurrency to be used in the local econonmy of Ticino.

The idea is to link the local cryptocurrency to local services and products, altogether contributing to the promotion of the local economy through a frictionless payment and settlement ecosystem.

Fintech Friendly Switzerland

Switzerland is among the world’s friendliest jurisdictions for Fintech companies including bitcoin startups and blockchain firms. Its geographical proximity makes it one of the world’s traditional economic hubs for world trade.

FINMA announced Fintech-friendly regulations late last year, one that has lowered the barriers for Fintech firms to enter the country to set up shop. The regulatory stance has already seen bitcoin startup Xapo gain an early ‘conditional approval’ from FINMA to operate in the country, earlier this year. Xapo chose Zug as the location for its global headquarters after moving out of California.

The idyllic lakeside town of Zug, one of the world’s lowest tax regimes that sees 3% of the world’s petroleum traded among its sleepy streets makes it a de-facto economic hub. In recent years, Zug has earned the name “Crypto Valley” after opening its doors to a number of bitcoin- and blockchain- startups. The town made international headlines last year after announcing a pilot program enabling bitcoin payments for municipal services in May 2016.

Zug lake, along the town of Zug which is quickly becoming a Fintech hub.

“With Bitcoin, we’re sending a message” Zug’s mayor said at the time. Zug garnered such publicity, “an international media frenzy” as mayor Dolfi Müller put it, that it decided to continue allowing bitcoin payments after the commencement of the pilot project.

The Fintech-friendly agenda enforced by the country’s financial regulator has resulted in a number of wider developments, particularly with bitcoin, in Swiss society. The operator of Switzerland’s national railway service began selling bitcoin from over a thousand ticketing kiosks late last year. The pilot project will last two years. In a further sign of bitcoin awareness and adoption permeating into Swiss society and industry, the Swiss arm of global services and auditing giant Ernst & Young (EY Switzerland) installed a bitcoin ATM among its offices and (arguably unprecedentedly) began accepting bitcoin as payment for its services.

Images from Shutterstock.

Last modified: February 22, 2017 15:54 UTC

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