Switzerland should launch a cryptocurrency version of the Swiss franc as part of the Alpine country’s attempt to steal a competitive lead in digital technologies, its stock exchange chairman has urged. Romeo Lacher told Financial Times that an “e-franc” backed by the Swiss central bank would boost the local economy as well as electronic payment systems which were increasingly replacing cash.

“I believe there would be a lot of upsides, we would be strongly supportive,” he said. Cryptocurrencies are controversial among central bankers, many of whom are sceptical about volatile currencies such as bitcoin becoming widely used.

There is also uncertainty about whether monetary authorities should introduce digital versions of their own currencies. Sweden’s Riksbank, one of the most advanced in its thinking, has hinted strongly it will introduce an e-krona but the more conservative Swiss National Bank has not indicated it was considering such a move, saying there was “no need” for a crypto franc in response to Mr Lacher’s comments.

Cash-based and cashless payment transactions in Switzerland were working smoothly, it added.  Mr Lacher is chairman of SIX Group, which is owned by Swiss banks and provides financial infrastructure services, including cashless payment systems, as well as share trading. “An e-franc under the control of the central bank would create a lot of synergies — so it would be good for the economy,” he said.

“I don’t like cash.”  Earlier this year, Johann Schneider-Ammann, economics minister, said Switzerland wanted “to be the crypto-nation”. The country has become a hub for initial coin offerings, whereby start-ups sell digital tokens to investors, and a Swiss foundation is behind Ethereum, the second-biggest digital currency. Read more from ft.com…

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