Switzerland - the blockchain capital?
Since the climax of the bitcoin hype, the term “blockchain” has become quite frequently referred to in the media, and also many companies, no matter their industry, are trying to jump on this trend planning to do “something with blockchain”. A behavior such as this has been referred to as “blocksplaining” – a term for people who believe the blockchain will be the answer to every serious problem we have on this planet. Issues such as climate change and environmental pollution? Blockchain will be the answer. Manipulated elections? Even for this blockchain will be the answer.
That being said, there is a good chance that with the technology advancing, blockchain will indeed be able to help improve certain processes; however, we doubt it will actually help to save the world. Nonetheless, there are quite a few who believe in the power of blockchain, and funny enough, most of them have settled around the Swiss city of Zug, about 30 minutes away from Zurich.
teknowlogy has recently visited the so-called “Crypto Valley” – the Swiss blockchain equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley – in which a total of 132 companies have settled and are working on products based on the blockchain technology; and their number is continuously growing. The reason why more and more companies are settling around the Zug area is rather simple: They profit from a growing “crypto community”, which is particularly popular among start-ups, from the proximity to other blockchain companies, but also to potential partners and consultants offering expertise, which altogether creates synergies. Moreover, with a number of high-class universities also settled around Zug and Zurich, the area is good in attracting fresh talent.
As a result, even large tech companies such as IBM, which is operating one of its only 12 research labs worldwide in Rüschlikon, is benefitting from this environment and is one of the largest companies in the area trying to advance blockchain further. Indeed, IBM’s co-initiated open-source blockchain platform, Hyperledger Fabric, has to a great extent been developed in the company’s Swiss research lab. The city of Zug itself is not holding back either and has been conducting a pilot project in which it has tested whether its residents could be enabled to vote online, naturally by relying on blockchain technology. It is also the first municipality in the world that accepts tax payments in bitcoin.
However, it’s not only the area around Zug that has been making advances when it comes to blockchain. In a recent study conducted by IBM in Switzerland, it has become evident that out of 70 large-to-medium companies that had been questioned, every second Swiss company is working on blockchain projects and 40% are currently discussing possible use cases. At large, the study found, and we at teknowlogy certainly agree with this, that compared to other countries, Swiss companies appear to be more advanced when it comes to adopting blockchain. Local software company AdNovum for example, has launched a new offering called “Car Dossier” which, by relying on blockchain, allows tracking of pre-owned cars, thus building an interesting use case for car insurers, public sector institutions and car importers in the country. On a different note, Swiss insurance companies Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re, together with various other global insurers, have initiated the B3i-group (Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative), working together on a blockchain prototype for reinsurance.
Thanks to the country’s political and economic framework it is not surprising that Switzerland is more and more becoming the world’s blockchain capital. Switzerland offers the perfect environment for blockchain to flourish: The country is open to innovation and entrepreneurship, is neutral and economically stable and has a high-quality standard of education and a world-class infrastructure. Particularly Switzerland’s financial sector, one of its key economic pillars, is very accepting to blockchain and many have started experimenting with blockchain or are discussing possible projects.
With all this in mind, it indeed appears as if Switzerland is the world’s blockchain capital – nowhere else is the technology so advanced and are so many projects being pursued. In our opinion this trend is going to continue, if not even amplified. And most likely the area around Zug will be at the forefront of this development.