Here’s what it’s like to visit ‘Crypto Valley’ — Switzerland’s picturesque blockchain version of Silicon Valley

ZugOscar Williams-Grut/Business Insider

 

ZUG, SWITZERLAND — Cryptocurrencies and related-crypto technology have become one of the hottest areas of investment and entrepreneurial activity over the last few years, with billions invested in the sector.

Crypto technology, sometimes called distributed ledger technology or blockchain, could potentially drive efficiencies in existing businesses and create new business opportunities by cutting out middlemen and decentralizing services. Many evangelists liken its game-changing potential to that of the internet.

Despite its decentralizing drive, development of the technology has tended to cluster around certain locations: Silicon Valley, New York, Malta, Gibraltar, Singapore, and Switzerland are all key hubs.

Switzerland is home to “Crypto Valley,” a cluster of companies and foundations in the small town of Zug just outside of Zurich.

Business Insider travelled to Zug last week for the Crypto Valley Conference to find out how the hub developed, how significant it is, and why companies are choosing Switzerland. Here’s what we found:

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Zug is a small town about an hour outside of Zurich with a population of around 30,000. The city traditionally centred around agriculture and heavy industry but more recently has become a hotspot for pharmaceutical and medical companies. Shire, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson all have offices here.

Many multinationals are attracted by Zug’s low tax. The region — or “Canton” as it’s known in Swiss parlance — charges just 14% corporation tax. It’s one of the region’s many business-friendly policies.

Oscar Williams-Grut/Business Insider

Zug is too small to have its own airport so to get there you have to fly into Zurich and get the train. The trains run right from the airport and depart pretty regularly.

The journey took about an hour but there are quicker trains if you time it right. The views are pretty stunning along the route: lush countryside, clear lakes, and picture-postcard houses lining the valleys.

Oscar Williams-Grut/Business Insider

The trains to Zug are double-decker. These tend to be relatively common in central Europe. Here’s the train I was travelling on pulled into Zug station.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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