What happened this week around blockchain and cryptocurrencies? The most relevant local and international events as well as appealing background reports in a pointed and compact weekly review.
Selected articles of the week:
The Cantonal Bank of Lucerne (Luzerner Kantonalbank, LUKB) got a ball rolling in August. The state-owned regional bank announced a custody and trading offering with cryptocurrencies scheduled for early 2024. A few weeks later, ZugerKB launched an immediate crypto offering. And now the third state bank is following suit. The Cantonal Bank of St. Gallen (SGKB) has joined forces with the licensed crypto bank SEBA to offer customers the two largest cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin and Ether – effective immediately. The digital assets are seamlessly integrated into traditional investments so that customers can add their cryptocurrencies to their existing portfolios via the usual interfaces. The pressure on other cantonal banks to position themselves in the space is growing.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has been actively examining the potential of a central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) since 2019. Various initiatives have been dedicated to evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of a digital Swiss franc. As part of the “Helvetia Phase III” pilot program, real Swiss francs are now being used for the first time in the form of a CBDC to settle digital securities transactions. The e-franc is being tested with established financial institutions such as Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Basler Kantonalbank, Commerzbank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, UBS and Zürcher Kantonalbank.
The SNB is actively experimenting in the area of wholesale CBDCs (wCBDC). However, the national bank has left a digital franc for the general public (retail CBDC, rCBDC) to the private sector. This is precisely where Swiss Stablecoin AG (SSC) wants to position itself as a leading provider. The digital Swiss franc stablecoin is intended to supplement the existing payment infrastructure with more functionality, simplify transactions in the digital space and thus promote innovative business models. An interview with Pascale Bruderer, former top politician and SSC Board President, on all the intricacies of fiat currencies in the digital world.
This Tuesday 15 years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto published the famous Bitcoin protocol white paper. Beyond the groundbreaking solution to the double-spending problem, this document laid the foundation for a trillion-dollar industry. Nakamoto started a movement for decentralized, censorship-resistant and open-source financial applications around the world. Even a decade and a half after the publication of the white paper, there is still considerable demand for a financial environment that is independent of centralized players. A retrospective glance at the original vision.
In addition: Solana is a powerful blockchain platform that is known for its speed and scalability. With a capacity of around 65,000 transactions per second (TPS), the network enables the extremely efficient provision of smart contracts. Other scalable blockchains such as Arbitrum barely crack the thousand mark. With a new validator client, Solana may be able to extend this lead even further. “Firedancer” is set to launch in the first half of 2024 and increase the theoretical transaction capacity to one million per second.