The city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, will invite its residents to take part in an experimental blockchain-based vote. They are expected to share opinions on several questions of local importance, including the fireworks display during the annual Lakeside Festival and the use of digital IDs to borrow books and pay parking fees. This and other fintech and crypto-related stories from the Alpine nation and other corners of Europe are featured in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief.
Zug Experiments with Blockchain-Based Vote
Authorities in the Swiss city of Zug plan to ask local residents to participate in a consultative blockchain-based vote this month utilizing the city’s electronic ID system. They will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading and installing an app. The experimental vote will be held between June 25 and July 1. Citizens will be asked if they are in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums.
According to Swissinfo, the results of the vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, the initiative, which aims to test whether blockchain can be used on a broader scale, highlights again the positive attitude of Swiss authorities towards cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology. The canton of Zug, dubbed Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, has become home to many fintech startups and even established crypto companies like the Chinese giant Bitmain, which has opened an office there.
For some time now, Zug has been accepting cryptocurrency payments for municipal services, including company registrations using bitcoin and ether. The city introduced its eID system to provide citizens with digital access to council services. The pilot phase of the project started last fall. The system is based on blockchain technology.
New Swiss Body to Simplify Capital Markets
In another example of Switzerland’s serious approach to fintech innovations, leading representatives of the country’s financial, technological, academic and legal sectors have recently formed the new Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) to facilitate the use of blockchain in financial markets. In a press release, they noted that “the blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the complexity of the capital markets system and lower the barrier of entry for startups.”
According to CMTA’s founders, the lack of legal certainty is slowing and can potentially compromise development in the field. They hope to facilitate access to funding for new businesses by defining a set of industry-supported open standards. These should ultimately contribute to value creation throughout the economy said Jacques Iffland, CMTA’s chair and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest Swiss law firm.
Swissquote Bank Ltd, a leader in online banking, and Temenos, which specializes in banking software, are also behind the initiative. CMTA promises to work to create toolkits that can be used by new or established companies, businesses and startups to access funding and raise capital securely and efficiently, using new technologies and leveraging digitalization. The association is based in Geneva.
Irish Blockchain Startup Delivering Aid to Refugees Raises €1m
An Irish startup, using blockchain to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised an estimated €1 million from investors, according to industry sources quoted by The Irish Times. The Dublin-based Aid:tech is working in refugee camps, often in hotspots like the Middle East. On Wednesday, Enterprise Ireland and SGInnovate, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean development authority, announced simultaneous investments in the Irish company. This is the first time both state-backed organizations have allocated funds to support a blockchain business, the Irish daily notes. Amsterdam-based Blue Parasol Investments and Tin Fu Fund, a closed private equity fund managed by Shenzhen Capital Group, also took part in the funding round.
Aid:tech aims to increase transparency in the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, donations, and healthcare services through digitizing their delivery using blockchain technology on its platform. According to the company, only a fraction of the estimated €306 billion (~$360 billion) transferred each year by non-governmental aid organizations is currently delivered via transparent systems which, the startup claims, are extremely expensive to administer. The blockchain technology employed by the Irish firm would allow all international aid to be accounted for, including the distribution of medicine, food and other essentials, the publication details.
Government-Backed Platform to Promote Ireland as a Blockchain Hub
In an attempt to highlight Ireland’s capabilities in the blockchain ecosystem, authorities in Dublin have launched a new government-backed platform. Blockchain Ireland, founded in partnership with a young company called Consensys, aims to create conditions for greater cooperation between startups working in the sector, both on national and international level. The platform was launched by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group and backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Finance, leading members of the country’s blockchain industry and representatives from a number of academic institutions.
The online platform is a source of useful information about the Irish blockchain ecosystem. It will be used to promote the country as a blockchain hub by highlighting the Irish technology sector and business environment which turn Ireland into an ideal location for blockchain-enabled business, Silicon Republic reports. The services it will be offering include providing information on setting up a new company and support for blockchain projects in Ireland. Its activities, however, will stretch beyond Irish borders. Blockchain Ireland will be working to develop the European and international blockchain ecosystem as well.
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