Swiss law allows the tokenization of shares of corporations. It is even a relatively simple operation. This is the conclusion reached by the Swiss-based Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) in its blueprint published today. Based on a legal opinion received from Professor Hans Caspar von der Crone of the University of Zurich, the blueprint outlines the procedure for incorporating shares of Swiss corporations into digital tokens, registered in a decentralised ledger, typically a “blockchain”.
Today’s announcement is a major step forward for the trading of digital assets in Switzerland. For several years now, Switzerland has been one of the world’s leading centres for raising capital through the issuance of tokens, or ICOs. However, tokens issued under ICOs generally do not correspond to any form of traditional financial instrument in the capital markets. They incorporate contractual claims to pay or provide services, or even simple expectations.
CMTA’s blueprint explains how to tokenize shares of Swiss corporations, i.e. equity securities. It however opens the way for the tokenization of other types of “mainstream” capital markets instruments, such as bonds or derivatives.
Dr. Jacques Iffland, chair of the CMTA comments “The publication of a practical guide for the tokenization of shares, available to all companies interested in raising capital in this manner, is a major step forward, in an area in which there has been significant legal and technical uncertainties. Tokenization is bound to facilitate the financing of start-ups and SMEs. It should consequently help to remedy a situation that has long been criticized in Switzerland: the lack of infrastructure for financing innovation and research.”
Together with the AML Standards for Digital Assets that the CMTA published on 18 October 2018, the blueprint constitutes a further step toward a comprehensive framework for the use of the distributed ledger technology in financial markets.