Home Policy & Governance Swiss government sets up unit to ‘foster financial innovation’

Swiss government sets up unit to ‘foster financial innovation’

Bern: the Swiss capital is home to the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) | Credit: hubsantana; Pixabay

Switzerland’s federal government is to establish a ‘central public hub to foster financial innovation’.

The ‘Swiss Financial Innovation Desk – FIND’ will operate as an independent unit within the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) in the Federal Department of Finance.

FIND is being set up to promote financial innovation in the landlocked European country and ‘thus contribute to consolidating Switzerland’s position as one of the world’s leading financial centres’, according to an announcement on public-private information portal Finance.Swiss.

Eva Selamlar has been appointed as the first head of FIND, which will launch on 1 September, according to the announcement, which adds that ‘in addition to the management, FIND will be reinforced by team members who will also be recruited in 2023.’

The new unit will ‘act as a catalyst for any matters relating to financial innovation in Switzerland’ and ‘bring together innovation projects, research, investors and authorities at national and international level and facilitate exchanges between the various stakeholders’.


Already on point

Selamlar is described in Finance.Swiss’s announcement as an ‘attorney-at-law LLM’ and ‘certified crypto finance expert’ who is ‘passionate about business development and innovation’. She has worked for law firms as well as nine years at Swiss bank UBS, among other roles, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She has yet to formally start in the newly created position but made her first appearance in that capacity at the ‘Point Zero Forum’, an international fintech conference in Zurich from 26-28 June (co-organised by SIF and Elevandi, a non-profit organisation set up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore).

‘FIND will connect what’s already existing, bring trailblazing ideas and entrepreneurial stakeholders together, all to help foster innovation. Very excited and honored to have been entrusted with this important task,’ Selamlar tweeted during the event.

At the end of 2021 Switzerland was home to 384 fintech companies, according to figures promoted by Finance.Swiss. Various regions of the country, which has a population of about 8.7 million, are marketing themselves around crypto: for example, ‘Crypto Valley’, a blockchain hotspot in the canton of Zug; and the affluent lakeside city of Lugano, which is home to 3Achain, an ‘institutional blockchain platform’ promoted by the public administration.

Bern-based SIF, together with industry representatives, launched a ‘green fintech network’ in 2020 to help identify and decide how support for the sector could be improved.


Switzerland’s wholesale CBDC pilot

In a separate development in Switzerland, the country’s central bank will “soon” issue a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) on Zurich-based digital assets infrastructure SIX Digital Exchange as part of a pilot.

“This is not just an experiment, it will be real money equivalent to bank reserves and the objective is to test real transactions with market participants,” Swiss National Bank (SNB) chairman Thomas Jordan said at the Point Zero Forum, Reuters news agency reported.

Jordan’s update follows a speech ‘Swiss Payments Vision – an ecosystem for future-proof payments’ jointly delivered at the Swiss National Bank (SNB)’s Money Market Event on 30 March by governing board member Andréa Maechler and governing board alternate member Thomas Moser.

In the speech the duo confirmed the intention of the SNB to ‘issue real wholesale CBDC on SDX for a limited time and test selected transactions with market participants’.

‘At this point, let us make it clear that this work is not intended as a declaration of the SNB’s intent to issue wholesale CBDC, or indeed to offer another settlement model. Rather, the point is to act prudently and proactively so that we can continue to fulfil our mandate in the future,’ they said.


Swiss government sets mid-2024 deadline for open finance progress – an article (6 January 2023) on government moves to encourage open finance