G20 meeting of finance ministers in Argentina: challenge of digitisation
Bern, 20.03.2018 - The first meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors under Argentinian presidency and with Switzerland as a guest country took place on 19 and 20 March in Buenos Aires. The starting point for the discussions, during which Federal Councillor and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer also expressed his views, was the observation of the perceptible and persistent economic upturn which focused on two aspects: the question of the sustainability of the growth path and appropriate measures to optimise this, as well as the confrontation with challenges posed by digitisation in the financial and tax areas.
Digitisation – Switzerland as a blockchain nation
In the area of the impact of the digital revolution, future working environment models, taxation of the digital economy and regulation in the area of blockchain technology for financial services, in particular crypto capital (crypto assets), were up for discussion.
Federal Councillor Maurer made his position clear by emphasising that crypto capital poses risks in the areas of money laundering, terrorist financing and investor protection. As some of these risks are global in nature, Switzerland supports multilateral efforts in these areas. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should give priority to work in the first two areas mentioned.
Switzerland attaches great significance to the integrity of the financial system but sees enormous innovative potential in blockchain technology, including financial services. It is thus striving to guarantee integrity, stability and innovation in one step. With the blockchain/ICO working group created in January 2018, the Federal Department of Finance (FDF), together with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), in cooperation with the sector, created the prerequisites for examining the legal framework and identifying any action that may be needed. The aim is to increase legal certainty, maintain the integrity of the financial centre and ensure technology-neutral regulation. Switzerland as a location for significant developments in the blockchain and ICO (initial coin offering) areas is very consciously and cautiously pursuing the goal of becoming a blockchain and fintech nation in international terms.
Taxation of the digital economy – no short-term measures
Furthermore, Switzerland actively took a stand on the issue of taxation of the digital economy. The digital economy should be appropriately taxed too. The existing taxation rules and possible new options should be discussed in the OECD. To guarantee legal certainty, avoid over- and double taxation and combat high administrative burdens, especially in the case of start-ups and smaller companies, short-term measures should not be introduced.
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