Blockchain technology is revolutionising the way we work, use financial tools and solve problems
Why Switzerland is an attractive blockchain hub for global innovative businesses
Devon Krantz, CEO and co-founder of the blockchain start-up Linum Labs, talks about why she chose Switzerland as a base for her company and how she sees the blockchain ecosystem in this country.
Devon, you co-founded Linum Labs in 2016. What does your start-up do and what is your vision for Linum Labs?
I originally co-founded Linum Labs in Cape Town, South Africa in 2016. Today, we are a blockchain software production studio with employees across Africa, Europe and North America. We focus on building a diverse array of custom blockchain applications for our global clientele.
Our goal is to pioneer exciting and novel technological solutions for our clients. We serve as a bridge between ordinary people and the incredible opportunities blockchain technology provides.
By integrating research into our daily work, we stay ahead of the curve. Our dynamic and flexible work culture constantly adapts to the industry’s needs.
You are originally from South Africa. Why did you choose Switzerland as a base for your start-up?
Switzerland appealed to us as the ideal place for our company headquarters due to its supportive environment for the industry. My co-founder was Swiss, so we had a clear understanding of what to expect when establishing a company here. We are based in Schaffhausen and both the city and the business community in the canton have gone out of their way to provide us with key networking opportunities and to connect us within the country.
The sense of security and stability in Switzerland is reassuring, to say the least. The thorough process required to set up the company meant we had the right infrastructure to confidently take on any project. We believe that a base in Switzerland, with the protocols you must meet and the help you get, reassures our client and helps us to easily establish trust. Our clients can see we are secure and stable.
Switzerland is also one of the most knowledgeable and forward-looking countries on blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation. These factors have confirmed to us that moving here was the right decision.
How important are corporate collaborations and partnerships for your start-up? Do you have recommendations for fellow start-ups in Switzerland on partnering with organisations and research institutes?
In recent years we have worked with clients of various different sizes. One of our most prominent is SBB, the Swiss National Railway. We created an identity and credentialing solution for their staff using the Ethereum blockchain.
Working with large corporations can extend timelines because of the regulations involved in implementing cutting-edge technical solutions. Linum Labs worked with their innovation and research teams on proof of concept projects and trained their developers and project managers in the intricacies of blockchain. We also made sure that the railway company and all their workers integrated the new technology successfully.
Our goal is to empower our clients to take our proof of concept and combine it with the knowledge we have transferred so that they are equipped with the appropriate tools for future projects. Using their own employees, they can build their own projects and we remain available to consult and guide them through the process.
How would you characterise Switzerland’s blockchain ecosystem and how could it improve as a blockchain hub?
Switzerland's blockchain ecosystem is dynamic. People are collaborating and partnering to achieve bigger goals together.
I will give you a few examples. There are foundation companies that sustain the blockchain – for example, Web3, Bancor and Tezos. Additionally, Crypto Financial Services Providers supply exchanges, crypto banks, market makers, hedge funds and liquidity providers, such as Bitcoin Suisse, SEBA, Sygnum, and 21Shares. There are also not-for-profit organisations that offer support and assistance to start-ups and established enterprises. Few of which include the Crypto Valley Association and Bitcoin Association Switzerland. Finally, custody infrastructure providers offer wallet solutions to administer digital assets. Some of the main ones are Ledger, Taurus, Metaco, and Crypto Storage AG.
There is potential for further improvement by strengthening the ties with the regulators and educating a wider range of people – including non-technical people. The technology is revolutionary and must be elaborated further to allow its quick adoption through different collaborations across the ecosystem.
Switzerland has been a pioneer when it comes to regulating blockchain innovations. How do Switzerland’s regulations compare to other blockchain hubs in the world?
We are pleased to have clients across the globe, it has given us the challenging opportunity of working across multiple jurisdictions. The products we build must be compliant with different regional standards.
We have found the Swiss regulation the most accommodating, as the government is actively trying to understand this new technology. Therefore, the ecosystem is able to grow in a structured and safe regulatory environment. The clear priority is to keep both companies and users safe.
The new DLT law shows Switzerland’s commitment to adapting to the evolving environment. The law enables regulated blockchain usage by legally binding digital transactions without the signature of a certificated registrar. These steps reinforce trust in blockchain technology and boost the ecosystem by encouraging other countries to incorporate similar regulations and practices.
What emerging trends and new applications do you see in blockchain globally?
Innovation in the sector has sped up at an exponential rate over the past few years. When we started in 2016 there was already growing curiosity from banks and financial institutions to see what they could do to stay relevant. Today, the interest in blockchain goes well beyond the financial sector.
Last year we saw the rise of DeFi, Decentralized Finance, which gives people access to financial products and services without using traditional financial institutions. This is slowly removing the barriers of participation in the wider economy. There has also been a popularisation of NFTs, Non-Fungible Tokens, such as for unique photos, videos or digital media. The growth in this is being spurred by celebrities and artists alike. As these things start to reach a more mainstream audience, the technology will become less fringe than it was previously.
All of these technologies are starting to gain traction in more mainstream news sources and reaching the eyes of people beyond just the STEM industries. I am excited to see the technology continue to revolutionise the way we work in the future, provide access to financial tools and create unique solutions to unsolved problems.
About Devon Krantz
Devon Krantz, CEO and co-founder of Linum Labs, is an emerging leader in the blockchain world. Her commitment to enacting positive change through decentralised technologies, coupled with her passion for fostering innovation in her community, are driving forces behind her company's success. In five short years, Krantz has seen Linum Labs develop from its humble roots in Johannesburg to a global entity with a diverse array of top-tier international clients. Today she is focused on building real-world, decentralised applications distributed across the globe.