Top Crypto News – 19/06/2018





UBS CEO: Blockchain Is ‘Almost A Must’ for Business


The CEO of Swiss financial services giant UBS Group AG endorsed blockchain technology in an interview, suggesting that it is “almost a must” for business.

Sergio Ermotti told CNBC Monday that the technology can help companies become more efficient, thereby reducing costs for certain operations. In general, technology will help firms free up resources, but blockchain in particular “is a great way” to increase those efficiencies.

He said:

“Our industry will continue to be under pressure, in terms of gross margins. It’s no doubt. The only way you can stay relevant is not only by being strong in terms of capital, in terms of products, the quality of the people you have, advice you give to clients. You need also to be able to price it correctly.”

During the interview, Ermotti said that the blockchain technology “will be as crucial and disruptive, and changing as regulation was in the last 10 years.”

This is not the first time Ermotti has praised blockchain technology without similarly praising cryptocurrencies. During another interview with CNBC in October, he said he was far more bullish on blockchain than he was about cryptocurrencies specifically.

His comments echoed those of UBS chief investment officer Mark Haefele, who referred to bitcoin as being risky last year, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

Putting action to words, UBS is currently backing a blockchain-based trade finance platform, Batavia, in partnership with IBM. CoinDesk reported in April that the platform has conducted its first live cross-border transactions with corporate clients.

UBS image via Shutterstock.
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Swiss Crypto Company Acquires License to Distribute Funds to Investors


First Point of Contact for Crypto Assets

Swiss Crypto Company Acquires License to Distribute Funds to InvestorsCrypto Fund AG, a Zug-based subsidiary of the Swiss Crypto Finance Group (CFG), has received a license to distribute collective investment schemes to qualified investors, Reutersreported. According to an announcement by CFG, this is the first time a crypto business is granted such permission by the authorities in Switzerland.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) confirmed the decision. However, the financial watchdog did not specify if this was in fact the first license of this kind.

According to another important clarification in the report, the permission does not mean the firm is allowed to operate as an asset manager for crypto funds. Nevertheless, the acquired license is a deliberate step, as confirmed by the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Jan Brzezek:

Getting the FINMA license is a big step in the right direction to establish us as the first point of contact for crypto assets.

Crypto Fund AG is also seeking another permission from financial regulators in Switzerland. This one would allow it to create a passive investment vehicle tracking a bench marked index of up to 10 of the most liquid cryptocurrency assets and digital tokens on the market. The index is calculated and maintained by Swiss bourse SIX.

Crypto-Friendly Nation with Positive Attitude

Getting the FINMA license is a big step in the right direction to establish us as the first point of contact for crypto assets.In recent years, Switzerland has established itself as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction. The country has its “Crypto Valley” in the canton of Zug, where Crypto Fund AG is registered. Many other crypto and blockchain businesses are either headquartered or represented there, including companies like the Chinese mining giant Bitmain. The Alpine nation has been considering the possibility to issue a state-backed cryptocurrency, although its central bank has admitted through an official that private digital currencies are better than any state-issued coin.

Businesses from the traditional financial sector have also benefited from the positive regulatory attitude of Swiss authorities. Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, a legacy financial institution, recently announced it was offering bank accounts to crypto companies, as reported. The bank’s management expressed desire to work with the young crypto sector, speaking of that as a “matter of credibility.”

Getting the FINMA license is a big step in the right direction to establish us as the first point of contact for crypto assets.But not only the private fintech industry and financial sector are interested in cryptocurrencies and the underlying distributed ledger technology. The fully state-owned Swiss Federal Railways, for example, has been selling bitcoin to its passengers for almost two years at over 1,000 ticket vending machines.

And the city of Zug, home of the Crypto Valley, is accepting payments in bitcoin and ether for municipal services, including company registrations. Authorities there are also planning to conduct a blockchain-based vote on questions of local importance.

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Payments Firm Square Receives BitLicense from New York


Services granted the license. Square first indicated back in March that it had submitted paperwork to receive a BitLicense, a move later confirmed by a spokesperson.

“DFS is pleased to approve Square’s application and welcomes them to New York’s expanding and well-regulated virtual currency market. DFS continues to work in support of a vibrant and competitive virtual currency market that connects and empowers New Yorkers in a global marketplace while ensuring strong state-regulatory oversight is in place,” Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a statement.

Square’s bitcoin-buying option – through its Cash app – first debuted last fall, after which the company began steadily providing access to a greater number of users. New York had, until today, remained a major U.S. market in which Square had yet to receive permission to operate.

The company’s move into the crypto space has already proven its worth, recent figures show. In May, Square reported that it had booked a small profit on $34 million in crypto-related revenue through is Cash app.

Jack Dorsey image via CoinDesk
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