– European crypto exodus to Switzerland is accelerating
Facing new regulations deemed too restrictive, the European crypto industry – the French one in particular – is accelerating its exodus. Switzerland is positioning itself as a land of welcome. A French flagship prepares to settle in Neuchâtel.
He is a rising star of the French tech and crypto scene coming to French-speaking Switzerland. Sébastien Gouspillou, head of the “green” bitcoin mining company BigBlock Data Center was in Neuchâtel this Wednesday with the representative of Economic Promotion to open an account at the BCN cantonal bank. Its collection series – 200 million targeted in six months, to become one of the world’s main mining players – began in Paris, in February. Therefore, you will most likely end up in Switzerland, where your new BBZ company must be registered within a few weeks. A pinch in the heart for this ambassador of French technology, “very patriotic” as he himself admits, and committed for five years to “wearing the red white blue on the international stage”.
“The environment has become too unfavorable”, laments the man who was recently kicked out of his French bank overnight. “Nothing to blame me for, just too big, too many turns, too visible. A double page in the echoes, the newspaper my banker reads, was the trigger.” Despite having founded a bank in France, the one who advises several governments – including El Salvador, where he made a prominent passage – made his decision: to move to Switzerland. “Regulatory uncertainty now adds to banking uncertainty. In France, virtually everyone is considering the possibility of a match.
Anger in Europe over regulatory uncertainty
Accelerated by fears of circumventing Russian sanctions and money laundering rhetoric from the authorities, the tightening of the regulatory loop around the European crypto industry is setting fire to the dust. Two weeks ago this is a very problematic article of the new regulations MICA (crypto markets) – debated in Brussels – which raised fears of the worst. The proposal provided for a very strong restriction – de facto banning – on the use of so-called proof of work cryptocurrencies – including bitcoin and ether – directly threatening three-quarters of the sector’s activity.
The great French players then multiplied their positions in the media and on the networks. In a post titled “Stand up for financial freedom the unicorn Reason warned against the “disappearance of the innovative and dynamic economy of digital assets” in Europe.
The article ended up being rejected in commission, although the new version of MICA was not enough to reassure the actors. This week, it is an adaptation of the European regulation on funds transfers – the travel rule – including cryptocurrencies, which was perceived as a risk to the competitiveness of European companies compared to their American and Asian competitors. The restriction of maintaining a private wallet and controlling the origin of all cryptographic transactions operated by intermediaries (regardless of amounts) does not pass. Spokesperson for the French cryptographic scene, Alexandre Stachchenko, founder of Blockchain partner and head of KPMG’s crypto division, flamed out on Twitter.
The climate is electric between MEP Aurore Lalucq, defender of a rigid structure for cryptocurrencies, and the players in the sector. The socialist has been under the ire of the French cryptosphere for several weeks now, with both parties accusing each other.
At the end of this Thursday afternoon, the first package of measures, including repressive measures against users’ private wallets, passed through the ramp in committee of the European Parliament. The others would follow. In the evening, the reactions were not long in coming.
Switzerland, more than ever, a welcoming land
Alexandre Stachchenko confirms that in this explosive context, “the exodus of European companies, in particular French ones, will accelerate” and mentions El Salvador or Switzerland as potential destinations. An acceleration of the exodus for which Switzerland is preparing. Alexis Roussel, COO of Nym and bitcoin pioneer in Neuchâtel, says he regularly receives “requests for information to resolve here. This movement is already underway and should grow in the future.”
Thus, Quentin de Beauchesnes, founder ofOwner in Paris, a blockchain solution for traceability in logistics, created in October 2021 at Neuchâtel Beyond Blockchain. A framework for developing new cryptographic projects. He is now working on opening a branch of Ownest in Switzerland for cryptocurrency management. “In France, we already had a big banking problem, with the virtual impossibility of transferring cryptocurrencies to an account and prohibitive taxes. Now comes the regulatory uncertainty.” He is getting closer and closer to “friends in Neuchâtel” and is currently looking for accommodation to settle down with his family in the Lake Geneva region.
Switzerland unearths the French crypto ecosystem
Aware of the economic opportunity for Switzerland from a deleterious European climate, associations and economic promotions are working to seduce and attract French cryptocurrency entrepreneurs in disarray. As proof, the organization – apart from the Blockchain Summit of the Week which will take place in Paris on the 12th and 13th of April, event at the Swiss Embassy in Paris, entitled “Switzerland, the ideal place to develop your blockchain and crypto projects”. Co-hosted by Switzerland Global Enterprise as well asEmi Lorincz, President of the Crypto Valley Associationhe will see cryptocurrency entrepreneurs intervene in Switzerland, including a Frenchman who came to set up his company in Geneva.
Among the messages that Emi Lorincz wants to convey during her speech, the “pragmatic and open to business” attitude of the authorities, which make Switzerland “a natural choice” to develop projects around blockchain, DLTs and “global applications in a tokenized economy Emi Lorincz highlights “a stable regulatory framework” and the strength of communities, particularly in Zurich, Zug and Neuchâtel.
Spicy detail, Emi Lorincz works for the French unicorn Ledger, emblematic of the French crypto scene, which supports the event. The director of the Cryptovalley Association specifies that “Ledger seeks to attract talent” and that, in the event of a more massive exodus, she would be “happy to welcome them to our offices in Zurich”.
Joan Plancade is an economic and investigative journalist at Bilan, a critical observer of the Swiss and international technology scene. He is interested in fundamental trends that are reshaping the economy and society. More information
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