The most iconic birth story in the world of crypto assets (virtual currencies) is the Bitcoin white paper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. So what’s next?
Ethereum launched in 2015, when Vitalik Buterin worked hard with other developers in a small apartment in Zug, Switzerland.
“It was like a shoebox. It was a normal house. I lived on mattresses like a hostel,” Bernd Lapp, an early member of the Ethereum Foundation Advisory Board, told me years ago. there is
He remembers Buterin as a “very kind and nice guy” who would go grocery shopping, peel carrots and hand out meals to developers.
Being the birthplace of Ethereum is one of the reasons Zug is “literally the birthplace of crypto”, according to former Zurich parliamentarian and author of Crypto Nation Switzerland, Alexander E. Brunner. (Alexander E. Brunner) said.
Government active in regulatory development
Another reason is the Swiss government. “Deny it or face it,” former Zug mayor Dolfi Müller said of the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I’ve always said I have to,” he continued.
So Zug decided to face it. We actively worked to brand it as a “Crypto Valley” comparable to Silicon Valley. For example, the government has experimented with allowing citizens to pay taxes in Bitcoin (BTC). A clear regulatory framework was put in place. “Switzerland is the first country to have guidelines,” said Brunner.
The regulatory hangover has made crypto-related companies reluctant to base themselves in the United States, while giving them a clearer picture of how they would be treated in Switzerland, and that they would be able to do their jobs. It is easier to proceed. “Crypto banks” such as SEBA and Sygnum also exist in the country, providing crypto startups with basic services such as tax certificates, crypto custody and deposit insurance, Brunner explained. do.
Such a welcoming environment for crypto companies has attracted the Ethereum Foundation, Cardano, Cosmos and hundreds of other projects to Zug. Taxes are cheap, fintech companies are everywhere, and the University of Zurich has a strong blockchain center. In addition, the Zug government recently pledged 39 million Swiss francs (about 6.3 billion yen) to the blockchain research center.
But there are some things that are a little different than expected. Zug itself does not have many bars or many crypto enthusiasts. It’s a small town. With a population of less than 30,000, Brunner described it as “boring” with surprising frankness.
So realistically, the idea of turning Zug into a “crypto hub” also includes big cities like Zurich (just 20 minutes by train), Bern and Geneva.
“Crypto assets can be said to be spread all over Switzerland,” said Brunner.
not suitable for development
Zug may be a convenient place to legally set up a company, but it’s not necessarily the place to actually hire people to do work. Switzerland is one of the few places on earth where prices in New York feel cheap.
“Many developers do not live in Switzerland,” Brunner said. “If you are looking for a developer or coding community, Switzerland is not the place for that,” he continued.
But still, if you want to enjoy the clarity of regulation, easy access to banks and venture capital (VCs), as well as the tranquility and relaxation, Switzerland is the place to be. Zug is already so comfortable that it makes me laugh.
In 2019, I spent a month in Zug, jogging by the lake and soaking in the pure silence. He attended a crypto meetup held at CV Labs, billed as “the heart of Crypto Valley.” The glittering five-story coworking space was, of course, dedicated to Web3, and on the top floor, floor-to-ceiling windows afforded spectacular views of the Swiss Alps.
But the atmosphere of those meetups has changed. No one wore a hoodie anymore, and suits became the norm. By the time Brunner was at a crypto meetup a few years ago, people were saying, “Bitcoin will kill banks! We will build a better financial system!” rice field.
Such words are almost no longer heard at Zug crypto meetings. Instead, there’s a newfound appreciation for compliance, licensing and even working with banks.
“The fringe side of crypto is gone,” Brunner said. The loss of crypto’s wild side may be frustrating for some, but in Brunner’s view, “crypto is coming of age in Switzerland.”
｜Translation and editing: Akiko Yamaguchi, Takayuki Masuda
| Image: Zug (Shutterstock)
｜Original: Zug: Where Ethereum Was Born and Crypto Goes to Grow Up