It’s starting to seem like a lot of countries are considering their own breed of cryptocurrency. Whether as a cash-raising measure or a way to get out from under the hegemony of the dollar, cryptocurrency is looking like a new way to go for entire countries. Some looked to Switzerland—home of the Swiss bank and all that goes along with that—to bring out one such currency, but that was not to be, as Switzerland’s national bank board director Thomas Moser shot holes in that hope for another year.
Moser, board director of Schweizerische Nationalbank, noted that now was really not the time to talk about a national cryptocurrency for Switzerland. Moser compared blockchain to compact discs, calling both a “useless innovation,” and effectively looking for a much greater forward advance in the field. Moser is right on this in the sense that blockchain is still a very young technology, and those who refer to it as “in beta” aren’t exactly wrong.
Moser also suggested that bitcoin has a shelf life, and as soon as something else “works better or is cheaper,” bitcoin’s status of primacy is likely to fade with it. Given that there are over 1,500 competitors on hand, at last report, something that works better or is cheaper isn’t far behind. The “is cheaper” part isn’t even difficult to find now; most of the top 10 cryptocurrencies are cheaper than bitcoin by at least an order of magnitude.
An official national cryptocurrency is a big step and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If nothing else, the Venezuelan Petro serves as a cautionary tale of how to put such a thing in play. Given that most consider it little more than a nationalized scam, the end result is going to put a lot of countries on notice that an “official cryptocurrency” might end up like it. There’s something to be said for a Swiss national cryptocurrency, but it has to be done right, and at the right time.
That time is not now, and that way is not clear. Caution is well-advised in finance; risk may make fortunes, but it also makes paupers. Switzerland’s pride of place as a banking titan makes crypto issues a big risk, one it may not want to take.