Swiss ‘Crypto Valley’ Tests Blockchain-Based Voting

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The city of Zug is to hold a small-scale test referendum using its blockchain-based electronic ID system

The Swiss city of Zug, known as “Crypto Valley” due to the fact that it hosts a number of blockchain startups, is to trial the technology for a municipal vote this month.

The move reflects a broader interest in digital ledger technologies such as blockchain, and the cryptocurrencies that use them, in Switzerland, where financial services play a prominent role in the economy.

The small-scale consultative vote will use Zug’s eID system, set up last November, which currently has about 200 users.

Voters can take part between 25 June and 1 July via an existing mobile app called uPort, the Swiss Broadcasting System reported.

Trial vote

As a test vote, the result of the poll will not be binding. Topics are to include whether citizens are in favour of fireworks at an annual festival and whether digital IDs should be used to borrow library books or pay parking fees.

Voters will also be asked whether the city’s blockchain-based eID system should be used for regular referendum votes in the future.

Aside from fostering blockchain startups, Zug also accepts cryptocurrency for the payment of some municipal services.

Other Swiss cantons also offer eIDs, but Zug is unique in that its system is run on the blockchain, a decentralised ledger system.

Canton Schaffhausen announced last week that its eID+ system, which doesn’t use blockchain, is to be fully launched following a test phase that began in December. The system gives users smartphone-based access to tax, employment, road traffic, child protection and planning, and other departments.

SwissID

Last year a consortium of private companies launched a national SwissID system. The offering, called SwissSign, is backed by Swiss Post, the Swiss Federal Railways, the country’s stock exchange operator and a number of banks and insurance companies.

The Swiss government has said it wants two-thirds of cantons to offer e-voting by the end of next year.

The Swiss central bank, like other major financial institutions, has begun looking into the potential uses of blockchain, and said earlier this year that distributed ledgers could be used to distribute central bank funds.

Earlier this month the privately held Hypothekarbank Lenzburg bank became the country’s first bank to provide business accounts to blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.