Switzerland is one of the most popular countries in the world along with Estonia for crypto licenses, it openly encourages the potential for blockchain technology and aspires to provide an optimal environment for continual innovation.
Switzerland aims to create an environment that allow companies explore new innovative ways of doing business in the cyrpto and blockchain sectors to become a 'blockchain and fintech nation'. The Swiss FINMA give companies that accept public money the opportunity of not "having to comply with costly time consuming regulations."
There are currently four different types of Swiss Crypto licenses available:
Switzerland is a pioneer of blockchain regulation since the start and has the most extensive experience in blockchain and crypto companies
Relevant authorities such as FINMA and SBA are approachable and encourage companies to develop personal contacts with them
Friendly business environment
Swiss government is active in encouraging the crypto environment and has issued ICO guidelines and FINMA papers
Crypto Valley in the canton of Zug has popular and innovative blockchain companies that enables a conducive environment for companies.
Low corporate tax rates
Low taxes in Cantons
Exemption from dividend tax possibilities
There is an enormous high-quality talent pool and the Crypto Valley Association which is dedicated to making Switzerland the leader of blockchain and crypto technologies is proactive in organizing events and communicating with the government to improve legislation
Crypto Valley is home to Xapo, Etherium, Tezos, and Monetas
Four of the 10 biggest ICOs in 2017 were incorporated in Switzerland.
Switzerland is one of the strongest and most stable economies and due to its ‘neutral’ stance provides great stability even in times of any regional instability
Stable political and economic environment
With the “tax reform and AHV financing” (scheduled for 2020), companies’ tax rate for the profit tax should decrease drastically
Details for Switzerland Cryptocurrency Licence
Financial intermediaries who are not members of a self-regulatory organization require a license from FINMA as per the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
The conditions of the license are set out in Article 14 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). These conditions must be met before a license can be issued to a directly subordinated financial intermediary (DSFI).
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A financial intermediary must fulfill the following conditions:
It must be officially authorized to conduct business or be entered in the commercial register as a commercial undertaking.
It must have an appropriate organizational structure and its internal regulations must comply with AMLA requirements.
Both the organization and the people responsible for the administration must have a good reputation and be able to provide assurance of compliance with its duties under AMLA and of proper business conduct.
Applications must either demonstrate that applicants will meet all the licensing requirements specified in the Act or will do so immediately after authorization has been granted.
The application must be signed by the applicant.
In case of applications filed by the applicant's legal representative, the application must be signed by the legal representative and a certified copy of the applicant’s person's power of attorney must also be enclosed.
FINMA will process the application once all documentation has been submitted correctly. If required, the applicant may be asked to furnish more information or documents in order to establish full compliance with licensing requirements.
General Information for a Crypto Licence
Incorporation takes around 3-4 months if all the paperwork and documents are duly filed and completed.
Minumum paid capital
The minimum paid-up capital is 100,000CHF
Directors and Shareholders
There must be at least one shareholder and one director
Details of the beneficial owner as well as any shareholders are not publicly disclosed however details of the director is publicly available.
There are three different types of taxes, federal and canton.
The federal tax rate is 7%
Each canton has its own tax rates between 11-24%. (Zug has a tax rate of 14% where a majority of the cryptos are based.
The company must have a registered address in Switzerland, does not need a company secretary but does require general meetings.
What do you need to start a Cryptocurrency Exchange?
A notarized copy of the following documents must be submitted :
Passport of shareholder and director
Proof of residential address of each shareholder and director (utility bill that is not older than 3 months can be submitted)
Bank statement of each shareholder and director
Signed and dated CV of each shareholder and director
Bank reference of each director
Education proof for each shareholder and director
Two legal references for each shareholder and director
Proof of source of funds
Non-criminal record of each shareholder and director
Detailed business plan
Company manuals (corporate governance, AML/Compliance, security, IT manual, complaints, remuneration policy)
Apostilled company documents must be submitted if Directors and Shareholders are legal persons
What is the Cryptocurrency License Process?
Collecting and submitting all documents
This includes all fees associated with the company and licence
Forming a Swiss company
Setting up of bank account
Filling crypto license application
Application is filed together with the business plan
Coordinating with FINMA to ensure all documents and application is in order
Swiss Cryptocurrency Exchange Licence
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***Note for U.S. citizens: US citizens are limited in their tax reduction possibilities due to FATCA and CFC laws. Opening an offshore company can increase privacy and asset protection, but you can not eliminate your taxes without giving up your citizenship. If you are a US citizen you are obligated to pay taxes on all worldwide income. Read more here about FATCA and CFC laws.