The Swiss authorities consider the launch of sandboxes for blockchain applications

The sandbox proposal is part of a broader consultation concerning the blokchain and the first offers of coins.

The Blockchain / ICO working group, established by the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), involving the L & # 39; Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) and the Federal Supervisory Authority on Financial markets (FINMA) are considering the opportunity to set up a separate sandbox for blockchain-related projects. The proposal is part of a broader consultation on blockchain-based technologies and early coin offerings (ICOs).

Recall that the working group was established at the beginning of 2018 to examine the legal framework of such technologies and determine if there is need for action. The working group is now inviting the sector to comment on the work done so far and to respond to the proposals.

In recent months, the working group has been intensively involved in civil and financial market law and has examined whether and to what extent changes to existing legislative instruments are appropriate due to the development of blockchain technology. The focus here is not only on the so-called initial coin offerings, but on all the applications of ledger technology distributed in the financial sector. In particular, the group identified the need to act in civil law for the transfer of tokens, their treatment according to the law on insolvency and the creation of new opportunities in the field of financial market infrastructures.

The working group is directly inviting associations of fintech to participate in the consultation. However, by 20 September 2018, all interested parties may submit any questions to [email protected] The working group will report to the Federal Council by the end of 2018, taking due account of the results of the consultation [19659003] One of the proposals concerns the creation of a sandbox for blockchain-based applications. There is already a sandbox for fintech projects in Switzerland, but it is used for projects in the banking sector. The working group asks whether this separate sandbox (or even separate sandboxes) would be able to solve some regulatory difficulties for companies involved in the development of blockchain-based products.

In a recent information sheet on virtual currencies, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) noted that virtual currencies like Bitcoin are not the only application of blockchain technology, which also supports services provided by so-called "colored coins" and "smart contracts". In these cases, the supplier must ascertain in advance whether approval is required under other financial market laws (eg the Scholarship Act or the Financial Infrastructure Act).

Switzerland currently has no regulations concerning the purchase and sale of virtual currency units or their use as a means of payment for goods and services. In other words, no special approval is required for these activities. This applies to all those who pay with a virtual currency or buy units, as well as all those who accept payments in a virtual currency or sell units. This does not mean, however, that there are no risks in using or investing in virtual currencies, as they are subject to significant price fluctuations and there may be uncertainties about the currency issuer. At the moment it is not clear whether the claims on virtual currencies can be claimed under civil law.

In July this year FINMA declared that it had initiated enforcement proceedings against Envion AG. FINMA has explained that it has evidence that the company may have violated the Financial Markets Act in relation to an initial coin offering (ICO).

The proceeding focuses on possible violations of banking law resulting from alleged unauthorized accusations of public deposits connected with the ICO for the EVN token. The investigations conducted by FINMA to date indicate that, in the context of its ICO, Envion AG has accepted funds for around 100 million francs from more than 30,000 investors in exchange for the issuance of EVN token in the form of bonds.

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