January 18, 2018 / 1:45 PM / 4 months ago

Swiss task force to look into blockchain oversight

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has set up a working group to look into oversight of blockchain technology and initial coin offerings (ICOs) and report back to the government by the end of this year.

The move comes as authorities cast a sharper eye on new such crowdfunding methods, which has let digital currency entrepreneurs raise millions quickly by creating and selling digital tokens.

Financial watchdog FINMA last year began investigating a number of ICOs for possible breaches of Swiss law, spelling greater regulatory oversight of some of the most prominent blockchain projects in “Crypto Valley”.

But the inter-agency working group will take a broader approach, looking at what supervision might be needed.

The Finance Ministry said on Thursday that State Secretariat for International Financial Matters established the task force that will also include FINMA and the Federal Office of Justice.

“The aim of this work is to increase legal certainty, maintain the integrity of the financial center and ensure technology-neutral regulation. This clarification of the regulatory framework should help to ensure that Switzerland remains an attractive location in this area,” the ministry statement said.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-know cryptocurrency, fell as much as 20 percent on Wednesday, while other cryptocurrencies took similar spills due to investor fears that regulators could clamp down on them in an effort to curb speculation.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams

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