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Virtual Currencies

At a glance


Virtual currencies are systems of units which have been digitally created and may be used as means of payment or exchange even without having been officially recognized as such. The economic importance of virtual currencies can no longer be denied: The aggregate value of cryptocurrencies has reached an amount of over 150 billion Swiss Francs. Moreover, many attempts have been made to use blockchain tokens not only as a means of payment, but also to transfer rights ranging from claims, intellectual property to membership rights, i.e., shares.  However, this development raises numerous legal questions which are mostly unsettled. The technical progress proceeds quicker than the development of the regulatory framework.

The existing financial market law hardly considers the characteristic features of the FinTech industry. Further, the qualification of virtual currency units under civil law is unclear. In this Project which is carried out by ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the legal framework for the use of virtual currencies in Switzerland are examined, and proposals for new regulations will be made taking into account the different interests involved.

The legal analysis and preparation of new regulations require substantial knowledge of the technical aspects of virtual currencies. Hence, the project includes a close cooperation with experts in computer sciences.

Given that similar problems exist all over the world and that it is often difficult to allocate Internet transactions to a national supervisory authority or a competent court, the project will take into account the amendments to the legislation implemented by other states. Due to the expected growth of blockchain technology and considering the regulations prepared by other countries, Switzerland will need to think of introducing equivalent legislation. The results of this project shall serve as basis for possible amendments to the existing law.

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