The Swiss stock exchange has announced plans for a digital trading, settlement and custody venue for crypto assets — one of the first moves by a mainstream European exchange to open its doors to digital tokens and securities.
SIX Swiss Exchange, part of SIX Group, which is co-owned by 130 banks, said in a statement that it has created an “end-to-end” exchange for digital assets — which could potentially lead to the trading of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin
in the future.
SIX claimed its status as an established mainstream market means investors can trust it as a “safe” place to trade such crypto assets. Jos Dijsselhof, chief executive, said it was the start of a “new era” for infrastructure providers such as exchanges, clearing houses and custodians.
The move is one of the biggest statements of intent by a European exchange to move into crypto assets, which have been heavily criticised by some economists and financiers, while regulators sound alarm bells.
Dijsselhof said: “For us it is abundantly clear that much of 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.”
The digital exchange, which will be based on distributed ledger technology, will also allow for the creation of tokens that represent existing securities. SIX plans to start rolling out the services in the first half of 2019.
A SIX spokesman said the platform will not initially be used for trading cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, although that is “likely” to change once the group has “more regulatory clarity”.
Thomas Zeeb, the head of securities and exchanges at SIX, said: “These [challenges] include the absence of regulation that ensures official safety, security, stability, transparency and accountability — all of which contribute to a lack of trust. The challenge is less in the trading of assets but rather in the custody and asset servicing, including asset safety.”
Earlier this week, 20|30, a UK firm building a blockchain platform for companies to raise money by issuing tokens representing equity, was accepted into a regulatory testing facility. Testing of the platform will be carried out alongside fintech Nivaura and the London Stock Exchange Group’s Turquoise venue.
US exchanges have so far been keener on digital assets than their rivals in Europe. Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange has a stake in crypto exchange Coinbase through its ownership of the New York Stock Exchange, while Cboe Global Markets
and CME Group
have both launched futures contracts on bitcoin.