Swiss Central Bank Still Not Holding Bitcoin, Even Though It Could

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In Brief
  • Swiss central bank will not hold bitcoin on its balance sheet.

  • The central bank believes bitcoin has yet to achieve the standards required of a reserve currency.

  • Switzerland has become one of the world’s largest centers for blockchain-based financial assets.

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The Swiss central bank will continue to not hold bitcoin on its balance sheet, despite the ease with which it could, says its chairman Thomas Jordan.

“Buying bitcoin is not a problem for us, we can do that either directly or can buy investment products which are based on bitcoin,” Jordan said at the annual general meeting of the Swiss National Bank. “We can arrange the technical and operative conditions relatively quickly, when we are convinced we must have bitcoin in our balance sheet.”

However, Jordan made it clear that the central bank believes bitcoin has yet to achieve the standards required of a reserve currency. For this reason, Jordan explained, the central bank would still not include the cryptocurrency on its balance sheet.

Swiss freeze crypto assets

Meanwhile, as part of Western sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland said in March that it would freeze all crypto assets owned by sanctioned Russians.

In recent years, Switzerland has become one of the world’s largest centers for blockchain-based financial assets, in addition to traditional ones. One senior official from the country’s finance ministry said the move was necessary in order to “protect the integrity” of its developing cryptocurrency industry. 

However, based on the decentralized nature of the digital assets, the official acknowledged that their efforts could be more limited in scope than they would have wished. “If someone holds their crypto key themselves then, wherever they are, it’s going to be virtually impossible to identify them,” the official said. “But if they are using crypto services — funds, exchanges and so on — these service points we can target.”

Swiss launch first combined ETP

Last month, the first exchange traded product (ETP) combining gold and bitcoin made its debut on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

While gold ETPs and spot bitcoin ETPs had already been available independently throughout continental Europe, ByteTree Asset Management’s 21Shares ByteTree Bold Index ETP is the first ETP to bring together “the best of the old and new worlds of finance,” according to Charlie Morris, chief investment officer of ByteTree Asset Management.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.

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