How Neuchâtel became a cryptocurrency hub

Originally from Geneva, Stephanie has set up her company, Peach, in Neuchâtel, which wants to connect bitcoin buyers and sellers via an app. Why Neuchâtel? “Everything is easy here. The young entrepreneur, one of the 50 participants in a cryptocurrency event organized on Friday in Neuchâtel, answers all the additional services we need, from a notary to a specialized lawyer, including the company that processes salaries. The canton is one of the Swiss centers of activity related to blockchain technologies Less noisy than Geneva or Zug regarding its participation in this emerging economy, Neuchâtel will have about sixty companies active in cryptocurrency, which imagine new solutions to finance or industry.

When you are active in the crypto world, “In France, you are turned away; in Geneva or Zug, we welcome you, while in Neuchâtel, we are waiting and accompanying you,” sums up another participant, Richard Denett, an entrepreneur from Lyon and host of a YouTube channel dedicated to digital assets. .

Accessible Services

Alexis Roussel, a pioneer in the crypto community in Neuchâtel, did not feel expected or escorted in Geneva, when he wanted to launch one of Switzerland’s first cryptocurrency exchanges, Bity, in 2013. “We had CHF200,000 to launch the project,” he explains. In Geneva this amount is considered small and no one understands what we wanted to do, while in Neuchâtel we were taken seriously and escorted immediately.”

The local crypto system was gradually built up in the ensuing years, “thanks to the professionals that any company needs — accountants, auditors, etc. — that we contacted so that they would bring their expertise to our crypto-active companies,” explains Alexis Russell, who also launched an active crypto company. Data Protection, Nym Technologies.

Read also: Swiss crypto expansion to the United States

Coding for the in-kind contribution

Another characteristic that we often hear during this day of meetings and conferences, is the generosity and availability of the Neuchatel authorities and the local cantonal bank towards cryptocurrencies, which the general public often associates with various scams and the instability of Bitcoin. It does not mean that the local government has any special affinity with blockchain or any particular technological skills. “The authorities are so used to the high technologies that are already in the canton, in the field of microtechnology or watchmaking for example, which they also do not understand in detail, but they know how to support it,” another participant analyzes.

Bringing industry into the twenty-first century

Rather than helping to develop applications for the general public or for financing, the Neuchatel authorities above all see an interest in “bringing the local industrial fabric closer to blockchain-related innovations, for example to authenticate watches,” according to Alain Rebeau. , the state councilor responsible for the economy, who also attended Friday morning.

Finally, many interlocutors, especially foreign ones, say that they appreciate that the Neuchâtel crypto community filters projects, which are analyzed by experts during informal events, often over a drink. This common choice excludes sulfur propositions, which are still very much present in the crypto space. As for the collapse of bitcoin, which has lost two-thirds of its value since November 2021, no one seems to be concerned or even really interested in the crowd of convinced enthusiasts gathered Friday in Neuchâtel.

Claude Burgdorfer, a chartered accountant at Milvignes, has imagined a solution so that crypto-entrepreneurs could form the capital of their company thanks to an in-kind contribution. In digital currencies of course. “In the same way that a painter can bring his cans and his car to establish his business,” sums up the specialist, who advised the first such company in 2018 and currently admits to creating several per month. “The priority of these entrepreneurs is to be able to carry out their projects, and they understood that it is easier to achieve this in Neuchâtel than in their country of origin, where they are often considered victims of the plague,” Claude notes again. Burgdorfer.

Read also: Cryptos Meet SPACs: All Will Be Well

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