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Guide: Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in the Canton of Geneva

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The Directorate General for Economic Development, Research, and Innovation (DG DERI) of the State of Geneva contributes to the development of the local economic fiber in all its diversity. It promotes entrepreneurship, digital and sustainable transformation, the emergence of talent, as well as innovation and scientific research.

Given the growing interest from various actors for blockchain technology and distributed registries as well as for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in Geneva, DG DERI presents this guide in order to accompany and qualify ICO projects with a view to their installation in Geneva, regardless of their degree of advancement.

With its profoundly international nature and its multicultural tradition, Geneva provides the ideal setting for ICO projects. The canton offers quality infrastructures, a favorable tax system, and a competent blockchain ecosystem composed of entrepreneurs, academics, and an administration that has already initiated several projects using blockchain technology.

In addition, Geneva positions itself as a global hub for cybersecurity and is host to leading players in the field. The canton supports the idea of international regulation of cybersecurity and welcomes the recent Cybersecurity Tech Accord signed in mid-April 2018 by more than 30 major companies in the technology sector.

The Swiss legislative and regulatory context is particularly encouraging for ICOs and companies active in the blockchain sector. This is due in particular to the classification of the various kinds of tokens in a practical guide published in the first quarter of 2018 by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), the Swiss financial market regulator.

This guide offers a summary of the information relative to the regulatory and tax measures in Geneva intended to assist ICO project promoters in their search for the best launch pad and to ensure consistency within the administration. It describes the qualification criteria for facilitating and accelerating projects becoming established in Geneva.

DG DERI offers entrepreneurs the possibility of obtaining an evaluation of their ICO project, as well as being put into contact, according to their needs, with actors in the Geneva ecosystem. A map of that Geneva ecosystem is available on the DG DERI website.

The information in this guide is updated by an open specialist group composed mainly of Geneva experts from the public and private sectors focused on the legal, banking, academic, and technical aspects of ICOs, as well as regulatory compliance, marketing, and more. This holistic approach makes it possible to consider every facet of an ICO.