SIX, the owner and operator of Switzerland’s stock exchange, announced plans Friday to launch a new fully regulated exchange to support the trading of digital assets, solidifying the country’s position as a “crypto nation.”
The SIX digital exchange will offer infrastructure for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, as well as other digital coins and tokens issued in initial coin offerings (ICOs), and will be backed mainly by the distributed ledger technology blockchain. The infrastructure will also support post-transaction services including deal settlement and asset custody, and will be overseen by the Swiss national bank and Swiss regulator FINMA.
Switzerland has been one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions in Europe. The country has been working on removing roadblocks that prevent conventional banks from providing services to crypto-related businesses. Earlier this year, FINMA released guidelines to help boost and support local ICOs.
‘Beginning of a New Era’
“This is the beginning of a new era for capital markets infrastructures,” said Jos Dijsselhof, the CEO of SIX, 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.” The first services are expected to roll out in the first half of 2019, according to SIX, pending regulatory permission.
The news reflects the sustained level of institutional interest in the digital currency space, despite declining prices. Bitcoin, trading at a price of $6,563 on Friday at 2:04 p.m. UTC, has lost roughly two third of its value since reaching highs near $20,000 at the end of 2017.
SIX is not the first operator of a traditional stock exchange to dive into the digital currency space. Earlier this year, TMX Group, which owns the Toronto Stock Exchange, announced its own cryptocurrency brokerage, while it has been speculated that Intercontinental Exchange, which runs the New York Stock Exchange, is also weighing the idea.