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Switzerland, with its trade routes across the Alpine mountains, has long been a global economic hub. Today, it's an attractive location to cryptocurrencies and digital tokens. Zug, a small town by a lake just outside Zurich, is home of the Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Four of the biggest initial coin offerings when start-ups sell tokens to investors were in Switzerland.
One reason is the local tax system, which makes Switzerland attractive for rich investors on the look out for the next big thing. Another reason is local schools. In towns like Zug, there are a host of IT specialists as well as a network of lawyers and financiers adept in the new technologies.
But one of the biggest draws is that Swiss politicians have welcomed cyrptopioneers. That contrasts with the attitude of other countries and of international regulators who warn cryptocurrencies might be flops, frauds, or threats to the financial system. FINMA, the Swiss financial supervisor, has set out clear guidelines for digital coin offerings. A government working group will draw up broader plans for developing the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies.
A big effort has been made to stop anonymous digital systems being used by criminals or for money laundering. A crash in token prices could burn lots of investors. But if cryptocurrencies are the future, Switzerland will be ready.