A spokesperson for SIX told GlobalCapital that it was "very important" that the platform would be a "safe and reliable environment" that enjoyed comparable regulation to the other trading platforms SIX manages. The platform will be launched in the first half of 2019, according to the company.
Creating a trading platform for traditional cryptocurrenices like Bitcoin is not the aim of the project right now, according to the spokesperson. The market infrastructure company wants to help clients tokenise existing securities, as well as “non-bankable assets to make previously untradeable assets tradeable”.
Cryptocurrency tokens are a relatively new innovation, allowing entrepreneurs to raise capital by selling newly issued tokens to investors using a computing platform like Ethereum. These tokens can then allow investors access to a revenue stream or governance rights in a project, or simply allow them to use a newly developed platform.
Helping firms raise capital by issuing and trading tokens on the digital exchange could be a focus of SIX, according to the spokesperson, but the main focus for the time being seems to be the tokenisation of existing securities like shares. This would mean making tokens that act as digital representations of shares, representing a partial ownership of a company and allowing for dividend streams.
Dijsselhof added that it was clear to SIX that “what is going on in the digital space is here to stay and will define the future of our industry”.
“The financial industry now needs to bridge the gap between traditional financial services and digital communities,” he added. “This is the role that we at SIX can play.
“SIX is in a unique position in that it runs the entire securities and payments value chain for Switzerland already, and is ideally positioned to create the digital ecosystem for the future, allowing existing and new market participants to develop their business models for the opportunities available in this new environment.”
World regulators have been grappling with how to treat cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency tokens this year, with varying approaches in different jurisdictions.
Switzerland has been one of the quickest jurisdictions to react to the emerging popularity of cryptocurrencies and tokens. The country’s securities regulator Finma released a guidance in February outlining how tokens would be treated under Swiss securities law.
Crucially, “asset tokens”, which the regulator defined as tokens that represent a “debt or equity claim on the issuer”, would fall under securities law. Utility tokens, which allow users to use a platform, and payment tokens which allow users to pay for goods and services, would generally not be labelled securities.
The spokesperson said that adding payment and utility tokens to the platform would be something SIX wanted to discuss with regulators and its clients.