Switzerland publishes new rules on cryptocurrencies :

Finma, the Swiss Market Supervisory Authority, on Friday issued new rules on cryptocurrencies, a booming industry in Switzerland.

In a "practical guide", the financial policeman says he wants to "bring transparency to the market players" on the ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) calls for funds in virtual currencies.

"This transparency regarding its methodology is important and appropriate, given the particular dynamics of the market and the high demand in this area," says Finma.

Excluding any regulation, ICOs now compete with the traditional means of financing start-ups.

According to a study by the consulting firm PwC, this process raised more than $ 4.5 billion last year, almost 20 times more than in 2016.

The Swiss regulator stresses that the law governing financial markets is not applicable to all ICOs. "The definition of ICO is extremely variable (...) The characteristics of each particular case must always be taken into account."

There is currently no universally recognized classification of "tokens", ie virtual currency units issued by the organizer of the ICO, in Switzerland or anywhere else in the world, recalls Finma.

In an effort of clarity, she chose to classify them into three categories: "payment tokens", "utility tokens" and "investment tokens".

"Payment tokens" can be likened to pure cryptocurrencies, endowed with a value and able to be a means of payment.

"Utility tokens" must "give access to a digital use or service", explains the guide.

Finally, the "investment token" can be compared to "a share, a bond or a derivative financial instrument".

In its guide, Finma insists on the risks of ICOs for investors. It recalls that "the prices of the chips acquired in the context of an ICO are generally very volatile", as has recently shown the very strong fluctuations in the price of bitcoin.

The financial policeman also draws attention to the risks of money laundering "which are particularly high in a decentralized system based on the blockchain, in which assets can be transmitted anonymously".

The "blockchain" is a transparent and secure data storage and transmission technology, one of the main applications of which is the creation of cryptomonnaies.