“Now is the time to be looking at Blockchain for Real Estate”
Interview with Walter Strametz, Chapter Chair Austria-Graz, International Blockchain Real Estate Association
By, Charlotte Dove McCarthy
This article will give you great insight into the blockchain scene in Switzerland,
with excellent tips and useful links!
Earlier this week, we had a chat with Walter Strametz, an expert on Blockchain, about life in Zug – Switzerland's 'Crypto Valley' – The centre of decentralisation.
It makes perfect sense for Switzerland to host the most buzzing blockchain hub in the world. Switzerland has positioned itself as an innovative, competitive, neutral, stable, economically affluent place – for many years, which provides a perfect place for blockchain enthusiasts to launch their new technologies. Zug is an area close to Zurich and Lucerne. A safe community of like-minded, clever people, with one thing in common – a love for tech. The best part? It is a tax haven – (the fifth lowest tax bracket out of Switzerland's 26 canton's) Here's a great video of life in Zug.
It is the home for crypto-powerhouses Ethereum, ShapeShift, Xapo, Tezos, Melonport, and Monetas.
Walter moved to Zug from Zurich about four years ago – originally from Austria. He said he was welcomed with open arms, despite being mountain range sharing neighbours. Walter chairs the IBREA for Graz in Austria, and said that Zug is the place to be if interested in Blockchain!
It sounds like an extremely beautiful place. There are farming fields which separate the houses, there is tons on offer for nature lovers, including beautiful lakes and you can get to the slopes in under 25 minutes!
He said Switzerland was an extremely social spot, with over 10-15 meetups per month, where individuals and companies meet to discuss the latest in blockchain technology. There are some venues which are so full of people, that most have to stand to hear these discussions! An innovative meeting place where knowledge is shared almost every other night during the week. Very interesting to hear that meetup.com is the only social media platform where these events are being advertised. If you would like to attend one of these meetups, there are a few groups you can join. Walter recommends: Ethereum & Bitcoin Association Switzerland – check it out for yourself here in the 50km range of Zug between 29.1 and 7.2 there are 9 crypto meetings coming up. https://www.meetup.com/find/events/?allMeetups=false&keywords=crypto&eventFilter=mysugg&change=yes&userFreeform=zug&gcResults=Zug%2C+Schweiz%3ACH%3AZug%3AZug%3AZug%3Anull%3Anull%3A47.1661672%3A8.515494600000011&radius=31&events=true
If you are interested in seeing what Zug's housing is like, check out house rental opportunities here. https://www.homegate.ch/rent/apartment/canton-zug/matching-list?lastMap=ctn_zg
We got onto the subject of blockchain developers. Apparently, the best place to meet blockchain developers in the area is at the meetups. Some of the better developers can make over 160k (CHF) per year!
Walter said that the beauty of Zug is the fact that it is so diverse. With the majority of residents originating from other international regions. He said that he has always felt welcome there. He did say that interestingly, the number of German expats to this region has dropped substantially. It is an area which attracts large multinational companies like Johnson and Johnson & Glencore as well as large pharmaceutical companies like Roche. Not surprising, with it's low taxes. Immigration stats can be found here: https://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/einwanderung-in-die-schweiz-es-kommen-weniger-auslaender-ld.1306441
Apparently, the best place in Switzerland right now for real estate innovation is Zurich, however there is alot of talk in every region regarding real estate technology. This is a huge area for improvement. Zug is a tax haven, so is the obvious place for innovators to base themselves.
We spoke about how startup blockchain companies get their whitepapers / ICO's approved to market. Here is some solid insider advice!
- Approach an advisory company (PwC, Reuters, Lakeside Partners, MME, Bitcoin Suisse) and get some advice. They will normally work with companies in creating a legal document with the right lingo. You can do this without them, but the knowledge with they have is valuable. Kind of like taking driving lessons before you take your test, to ensure you are submitting your application correctly!
- This legal document must be sent to FINMA (Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) This is now in their hands. They will either approve or reject the application. They will let the applicant know if they have been successful in a couple of weeks. There is no point in trademarking a startup until this has been approved. (Another good heads up here, is that there is a $1m sandbox in CH – this must be applied for) https://www.finma.ch/en/news/2016/03/20160317-mm-fintech/
- Once approved, the company can start trading, following regulations. There are a number of additional laws which must be obeyed, especially in regards to anti-money laundering. Depending on the type of cryptocurrency, other rules apply. This is why FINMA is involved. If breached, they can easily shut you down.
We also spoke about trends in blockchain technology and Walter said that 2018 is the year for REAL ESTATE. It is a tricky market to break into as it is very personal and private. This makes it hard to identify business models and opportunities. There are awards ceremonies, where innovators are awarded top prizes of $100,000.00 last year the focus was on insurance tech . Check out the website here: https://www.blockchaincompetition.ch/apply/
With big educational institutions such as Lucerne and ETH Zurich on Zug's doorstep, there is a ton of fresh talent closeby. Some of these universities are so ontop of blockchain technology, that they accept cryptocurrencies to pay for courses! ETH is the equivalent to an American Ivy League College, only inviting the brightest minds to enrol. A good spot to scout for top talent.
Switzerland's largest railway network allows you to pay for train tickets with bitcoin, and they have installed over 1000 atm's across the country. They are changing mindsets and people seem keen to adopt this new technology there, however. it is a bit tricky getting relevant stakeholders like financial institutions onboard with this new technology, as they are in essence, the middlemen which the blockchain cuts out!
There is a ton of foreign investment happening in this region. There are a lot of ICO roadshows as well as a very diverse crowd at the meetups – with alot of Asian interest.
Walter shared with us a company which runs an accelerator programme in Switzerland for Proptech – https://polytechecosystem.vc/ Please check out other useful links below!
This is gold dust for anyone looking to move into this circle…
https://www.bitcoinassociation.ch/ – great list of blockchain companies in Switzerland
https://www.bitcoinsuisse.ch/# – Swiss-based financial service provider specializing in crypto-assets
https://lakeside.partners/ – Investment for blockchain entrepreneurs & events
https://cryptovalley.swiss/ – A network of blockchain enthusiasts
https://www.mme.ch/en/ – the company behind the legal framework of Ethereum
https://www.meetup.com/cities/ch/zug/ – the local meetup website in Zug
https://cryptovalley.swiss/why-switzerland/ – Why Switzerland? (an overview of Zug)
https://www.blockchaincompetition.ch/apply-de/ – Blockchain competition
A few GREAT Swiss Blockchain Influencers to connect with on Linkedin:
Walter's one to watch: EOS.io (you heard it here!)
Walter will be hosting an event in Austria in March. More details below!9th March 2018, Graz, Austria
Software is taking over the world, but it is only the beginning for real estate! Tradition, privacy and trust are the barriers. This may change with blockchain, the operating system behind bitcoin. Wrap your mind around this groundbreaking technology, and see for yourself, what opportunities are out there. This event will gather and host pioneers to discuss the latest blockchain developments in real estate.
NOW is the time to look at blockchain closely – get ahead of the curve and judge for yourself, where blockchain can be used in your business and for your advantage.
- Buy “real-coins” in order to participate in the value creation in real estate? For the startup swissrealcoin.io this is already a reality.
- Getting a loan and land title within 2 days without consulting a lawyer? Chromaway has done this in Sweden, fully digitized on the blockchain.
- Hear from international experts what is possible today and where these developments lead us in future.
Location: Seifenfabrik Graz
Date: 9.3 2018, 9 bis 17.15 Uhr
Organizers: Walter Strametz, FUTURE:PropTech
Ticket: € 300 incl. VAT
Discount: -10 % qeyo5_fpt, – 5 % paying with cryptocurrency ether
Tickets and more: www.blockchain-real.at