Business banking for blockchain organisations

Vault in a Swiss bank (Source: Link)

Business banking is a problem

Getting a bank account for a blockchain business is particularly hard in the current climate. As soon as you mention that your business has anything to do with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, or blockchain, the banks are refusing to open accounts. Moreover, they may even close your account. Unfortunately, Switzerland is no exception.

Overlooking Lake Zug (Source: my own picture)
Switzerland flag (Source: Link)

Why are the Swiss banks being difficult?

This is the question that most of us are wondering about. We suspect we know why, but we can’t quite say with absolute certainty. Most people suspect that the Swiss banks fear future pressure from other countries, particularly from the US. Given the fallout from 2008, where we know that the US bullied Switzerland, then it isn’t really a stretch of the imagination to consider that the US (or even the EU) could put pressure on Switzerland into taking action. That may already be happening and could be the underlying reason that the Swiss banks are being extra cautious.

What can you do right now?

Given that getting a business bank account is tough, what are the possibilities?

Liechtenstein Flag (Source: Link)

Liechtenstein leading the way

There are a number of factors coming together to make Liechtenstein a key player in the growing blockchain industry.

Liechtenstein Foundations — pause for thought

There is a question around whether to set up a Liechtenstein based company or foundation if you are intending to bank there. Foundations can be set up with a minimum of 30,000 CHF and supposedly offer a good level of asset protection. However, while researching some details around this blog post I came across a news article that made me pause for thought on Liechtenstein based foundations:

My trip to Liechtenstein at the end of April, 2017.

Will the situation in Switzerland be resolved?

Fortunately, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The folks in the cantonal government of Zug are aware of the problems and are not happy with the Swiss banks at present. They are keen to keep attracting more blockchain projects. Obviously, this will give them even more tax income. Often said to be the richest canton (per person at least), it is clear that they are keen to maintain their position as the world-leading jurisdiction. Blockchain projects are still keen to move to Zug for a number of reasons: the great quality of life, the attractive tax benefits, but also the wealth of experience in the local organisations.

The coming months

I think it is worth keeping an eye out for the headlines in the coming months about Swiss banks welcoming blockchain projects back as customers. Old customers who were kicked out might not return, but new customers may be willing to take the chance. The longer they refuse to take on new projects, the more damage that’s done to their reputation.

About me

Currently, I work at the Web3 Foundation, covering numerous responsibilities, but mainly security and communications.

Questions / Comments?

You can create a reply to me here on Medium, or reach out to me on Twitter: EAThomson.

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