Swiss Drawn to Cryptocurrency

 Cryptocurrency, Future Security  Comments Off on Swiss Drawn to Cryptocurrency
Jul 252017
 

Twenty miles south of Zürich is a small town called Zug. It looks just like any other affluent Swiss town, but one that has managed to attract entrepreneurs specializing in digital currency – meaning you can pay for things without needing physical money. By 2014, it was dubbed by those in the financial world as Crypto Valley.

How did this happen?

The 2008 global financial crisis led the U.S. to take severe measures when it came to offshore accounts. With low taxation of foreign corporations and individuals, it was no wonder that Switzerland became a preferred tax haven. UBS and Credit Suisse were fined millions of dollars by the US Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 for allowing tax evasion.

An end to its status as a tax haven forced Switzerland to look at other options to remain relevant in the banking sector. The answer came in the form of a cryptocurrency and digital payment system called bitcoin.

In 2016, bitcoin received a global investment of $1.4 billion and hot a ton of money flowing through it. This offered an opportunity for Switzerland to set itself up as a cryptocurrency hub. To do that, they had to create regulations allowing companies dealing with cryptocurrencies to flourish – a process that has caused headaches for other governments weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the technology.

Bitcoin protects the identity of users which led some to use that advantage for nefarious purposes. For instance, it was used on Silk Road, a site that was engaged with a number of illicit activities such as drug dealings and unlicensed firearms.

The troubles concerning bitcoin don’t seem to bother a number of Swiss citizens who have a mind for technology along with some libertarian views. For them, bitcoin provides an opportunity for them to make payments without the need of a bank or credit card company.

The aim of a decentralized financial system is what drives Johann Gevers, a South African financial entrepreneur. Gevers came to Switzerland in 2012. His company, Monetas, provides a digital system that allows any currency, including bitcoin, to be transferred around the world at low rates. He believes that too much power resides with just a few hands which can result in massive suffering, citing the 2008 financial crisis as an example.

The reason Gevers chose Switzerland was simple: it has the most decentralized political system in the world and efforts like his are seen as opportunities rather than threats. He was soon followed by other cryptocurrency startups who liked the idea of a country that is open to non-traditional ideas about currency.

Zug, the small town where Monetas and a number of other cryptocurrency companies are based, is embracing the technology. The local government lets its citizens pay for services using bitcoin.

This open-minded adoption of the technology is not restricted to Zug alone. Bitcoin Suisse has installed 10 bitcoin ATMs across Switzerland that accepts euros and Swiss francs then returns a slip of paper with code representing the corresponding bitcoin value; scanning the code using a smartphone gives the user their “money.”

While other world governments are trying to figure out ways to regulate bitcoin technology, the atmosphere in Zug is forward-looking: companies are looking for ways to use the technology beyond banking.

 

Mar 152011
 

Japan’s recent earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear meltdowns got me to thinking if Man will ever conquer Mother Nature? It also got me to thinking which is more powerful, a tsunami or a rogue wave? If the two were to clash would they cancel each other out?

My tendency is to think they would be like two ships passing in the night barely noticing each other. Rogue waves, as in the movie “Perfect Storm” tend to be far from shore. A tsunami, on the other hand, can also travel far from shore as witnessed in Northern California from the recent 9.0 Japanese quake.

But, and this is a big but (to go along with my own big butt that consumed too many calories on a late night binge on chicken nuggets last night – but I digest) the advice given for boaters at least is that if a tsunami is coming then take your vessel 3 miles out to sea away from shore. For rogue waves, the closer to shore you are the safer you and your ship are. At least this is the conventional wisdom. Not that I’m into convention or wisdom.

So, the point I’m trying to make and doing a bad job in getting quickly to it is will there come a time when Man can overcome Mother Nature using science and technology. For instance here are some things I’ve thought about in regard to future technology to deal with catastrophic natural events:

1.      Pre-emptive strikes of explosives along volcanic plates to ease the pressure.

2.      Use of laser beams along fault lines for the same purposes.

3.      Instant early warning systems tied into our cell phones, laptops, PCs. There must be an app for that? Or perhaps there will be.

4.      In the future, say 50 or so years from now, there may be flying cars, buses, or even buildings for high level emergency evacuations.

5.      Having lived near the Mississippi River for a while I know that some houses are built on stilts to deal with occasional floods. Perhaps in the future, hydraulic stilts on future homes would be an option to deal with flooding, tsunamis and even the shaking from 9.0 and above earthquakes.

Waves

These are just a few ideas I came up with off the top of my head. I regularly put a mirror above my head to see small light bulbs going off and “word ideas” coming and going like drops of water in a hot frying pan. So, if you have an idea for how we can try to protect ourselves better from Mother Nature in the future using technology, then leave a comment. As for me, I’m going back to my mirror since I think I see a bald spot and there may just be a few new ideas ready to pop.