Zug is well-known as the “Crypto Valley,” but it’s not exactly a paradise for crypto companies. While Switzerland offers many advantages for startups, the jury is still out if the city of Zug deserves its nickname. Smart Valor CEO Olga Feldmeier shared some insights.
The Swiss city of Zug is the center of the so-called “crypto valley,” a place where crypto and blockchain startups supposedly flourish. Depending on who you ask, the Swiss city of Zurich and neighboring Liechtenstein are also often considered part of the crypto valley for the same reasons.
The name first came up a few years ago after several blockchain-focused companies set up shop in the region, most famously the Ethereum foundation and many others. The region is touted as having crypto-friendly innovation and a supportive ecosystem, from government agencies to business services and networking opportunities and investors.
But is it really such a great place for all things crypto, or is it more of a “not everything that glitters is gold” situation?
Crypto Valley staging “exaggerated”
The Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung recently interviewed Olga Feldmeier, CEO of the crypto exchange Smart Valor. The company was founded in Zug in 2017. Meanwhile, it also has a representation in Liechtenstein. During the interview, Feldmeier shared some insights into what it really is like to be incorporated in Zug as a crypto business. Not everything she said was positive.
Feldmeier agreed with the journalist that there are mainly headquarters of cryptocurrency foundations in Zug, but hardly any employees actually work on blockchain projects.
“Most of the companies registered here do not have employees here,” she is quoted in NZZ. She also believes the media staging of Zug as a “crypto-valley” is exaggerated. In fact, her own company is struggling with the general conditions in the area. For example, it’s hard to find IT specialists, and only a few investors are in Zug.
There is nothing for startups here, was her conclusion. “When crypto-savvy people arrive, they look for startup pubs and investor meeting places. That doesn’t really exist here”, Feldmeier is quoted in NZZ.
Switzerland lags behind
When asked whether Zug had already missed the boat on cryptocurrencies, she said that’s not a Zug-specific challenge but for Switzerland as a whole. IT development is taking place in other countries. The labor policy here is too rigid, she said.
THat’s somewhat contrary to the common perception that Switzerland has such crypto-friendly regulations. Feldmeier disagreed with that notion and said Switzerland is too restrictive, and innovation is hardly promoted.
Not all things are bad
That said, Feldmeier also acknowledged that many things are better in Switzerland compared to other countries.
She also said Smart Valor plans to stick with Switzerland as a location; for an exchange, the most important asset is trust. That requires a headquarters in a safe and stable country.
Altogether, it’s interesting to hear voices that tell the experiences companies make on the ground. Whether or not Liechtenstein is better for her company, Feldmeier didn’t say. But generally, Liechtenstein certainly offers some advantages that Switzerland doesn’t.
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