‘A new era for capital markets’: The Swiss stock exchange is launching its own cryptocurrency exchange

A Swiss flag is pictured on the Swiss Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) in Bern, Switzerland May 30, 2018.

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A Swiss flag is pictured on the Swiss Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) in Bern, Switzerland May 30, 2018.
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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

  • SIX, the owner and operator of the Swiss stock exchange, is launching a new fully-regulated crypto exchange.
  • The move comes despite a slump in prices and volumes in crypto since the start of the year.
  • “It is abundantly clear that much of what is going on in the digital space is here to stay,” CEO Jos Dijsselhof said.

SIX, the company that owns and operates the Swiss stock exchange, on Friday announced plans to launch a fully regulated cryptocurrency exchange, showing continued institutional interest in the space despite declining prices.

The new SIX Digital Exchange will be overseen by the Swiss national bank and Swiss regulator FINMA, the company said. Switzerland has been one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions in Europe, with regulators offering clear guidance on how they expect crypto companies to operate.

SIX’s decision to launch a crypto exchange comes despite a collapse in the value of cryptocurrencies and declining volumes since the start of the year. Bitcoin, the largest crypto asset by market value, collapsed from around $20,000 per token at the start of the year to just over $6,600 on Thursday.

“This is the beginning of a new era for capital markets infrastructures,” Jos Dijsselhof, the CEO of SIX said in a statement. “For us, it is abundantly clear that much of what is going on in the digital space is here to stay and will define the future of our industry.”

Investors and entrepreneurs in the space say that institutional investors are preparing the infrastructure needed to enter the space, setting up trading accounts and custody solution behind closed doors. One described the flurry of activity they are seeing as “preparing for September” to BI – referring to a month typically associated with high post-summer trading volumes in the investment world.

SIX’s new platform, set to launch in the first half of next year, will offer end-to-end trading, settlement, and custody service for digital assets such as bitcoin and ICO tokens.

Thomas Zeeb, head of securities & exchanges at SIX, said in a statement: “The digital space currently faces a number of key challenges. These include the absence of regulation that ensures official safety, security, stability, transparency and accountability – all of which contribute to a lack of trust.”

Zeeb highlighted digital asset custody – who looks after your tokens – as a key issue in the space and said SIX would solve this issue through its role as “a recognised and regulated infrastructure provider who provides all steps of the chain in an integrated and secure model.”

Business Insider recently highlighted the problem of custody as a key barrier for venture capitalists and other institutional investors looking to get into crypto.

Separately on Thursday, US crypto exchange operator Bittrex announced a joint venture with Invest.com to build a new crypto trading platform in the EU. Itai Avneri, Invest.com’s spokesman, said in a statement: “Our goal is to become the most reputable platform in the EU and later in numerous countries across the globe.”