Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Switzerland “Should Become the Crypto-Nation” Says Minister (trustnodes.com)
173 points by svaja 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments



Then replace the board of the Tezos Foundation and force Johann Gevers (foundation board president) to release the audit report investigating the self-dealing he is accused of.

FYI, Tezos (self-amending ledger, one of the largest commercial application of OCaml) has raised ~250 million dollars in July. The funds were supposed to go toward funding the ecosystem, development, and so on.

Unfortunately, the founders of the project made a terrible call early on and selected a bad apple (JOHANN GEVERS) to become chairman of the foundation holding the fundraiser/ICO proceedings. After some digging, frustrated community members found out that this guy has a long track record of failed ventures and what some would call very sketchy behavior. He's the self-appointed "visionary" kind if you want know what I mean (not kidding that's from his website).

The project is developed by an independent company owned by the founders so it is still under development (https://gitlab.com/tezos/tezos/activity) despite that foundation issue.

The Tezos Foundation hasn't communicated in months. They are sitting on close to a billion dollars of donations and broke their fiduciary duty to spend the money on development.

Research this, it is completely nuts.

Some links to start:

https://www.reddit.com/r/tezos/comments/7kzbm9/the_story_and...

https://www.reddit.com/r/tezos/comments/7qt548/the_true_hist...


There's something pretty rich about asking the government to intervene in a project described as:

Tezos is a new decentralized blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth.

Especially one that, according to your links at least, has been defrauded by its radical libertarian and Ayn Rand acolyte leader. Is this not the free market merely deciding that the people who donated have poor judgement?


You have interpreted libertarian philosophy incorrectly.

Libertarians are absolutely in favor of using court systems to sue people for fraud.

The belief in contract enforcement, and stopping fraud is a defining feature of libertarians.


For some reason you're getting downvoted, but clearly people have some misconceptions about libertarianism, perhaps confusing it with anarcho-capitalism.

I'd agree that contract enforcement (including to combat fraud) along with the non-aggression principle, are the primary defining principles of libertarianism, regardless of the particular school or wing of libertarianism in discussion.


Even anarcho capitalists may support a p2p court system to combat fraud. Anarcho-Capitalism does not mean lawlessness and chaos.


Libertarians are not anarchists. Otherwise you'd just be talking about anarchists...


May libertarians ARE anarchists. Anarcho-capitalists also call themselves libertarians and voluntarists. Free Talk Live, the most popular libertarian radio station has hosts that are nearly all AnCaps who care about the NAP more than outcomes, and so forth.

And in a libertarian Utopia, it is truly Caveat Emptor - let the buyer beware! Personal responsibility, no nanny governments!


Even in libertopia, there may be independent voluntary consumer protection organizations (not funded or enforced by the state) which sellers and buyers might associate with or otherwise utilize to ensure positive trades.


Anarcho-capitalists aren't anarchists. It is self contradictory to have a society that is controlled by capital owners (capitalism) and one that is controlled by no one (anarchism).


And yet we find ourselves talking about Libertarians while discussing anarchies ;)


> a true digital commonwealth.

That is hysterical.


Sounds like your left-wing bias assumes that libertarians and Ayn Rand supporters are inherently fraudulent and looking for any opportunity to steal money.

Gevers is fake libertarian, he is con-man who just made fake organizations to make visibility of high reputation. There is absolutely nothing from libertarianism or Ayn Rand philosophy in his actions. In fact, Ayn Rand is Atlas Shrugged specifically mention about fraudulent people.

I see your sarcasm about:

> Tezos is a new decentralized blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth.

They didn't launch project yet. Once they launch project, it will be exactly like that and it doesn't matter what's happen with foundation. But for now, the foundation cut off any funding of the project in critical development stage.

Yes, contributors are responsible to do their due diligence.

About asking government to intervene in order to remove Gevers. In some sense, it's government (more precisely the swiss law) who protect Gevers position.


>Sounds like your left-wing bias assumes that libertarians and Ayn Rand supporters are inherently fraudulent and looking for any opportunity to steal money.

No, parent only assumes that libertarians/Ayn Rand supporters shouldn't go to the government to cry.

>Gevers is fake libertarian, he is con-man who just made fake organizations to make visibility of high reputation. There is absolutely nothing from libertarianism or Ayn Rand philosophy in his actions.

Seems to me like a good case of a self-made man who saw an opportunity and took it, lesser mortals and common good be damned. What's more Ayn Randish?


Ayn Rand was very much about following through with commitments. If Gevers has a long track record of failed ventures because he aimed higher than he was capable of achieving then he is indeed a self-made man who saw an opportunity and took it in the fine Randian style.

If he is a con-man who said he is going to do something then took the money and ran without putting in a serious effort, he isn't an example of her philosophy.

Rand accepted people being selfish because in practice selfishness has been proven no barrier to creating prosperity for everyone. She didn't accept dishonesty.


I never understood this argument from objectivists.

If you use cold hard logic and take Ayn Rand at her word, then someone can totally screw others over as long as they were sure wouldn't personally get in trouble for it.

After all, the "as befits a rational being" is the only qualifier and that's so vague as to be a "no true scotsman" argument making her whole praise of selfishness moot. If selfishness is an amazing thing except when she doesn't like it, then her whole philosophy isn't objectivism at all, but back to the "subjective whims" and pronouncements of "mystics" she so derides.

You can't have it both ways. If altruism is criticized and selfishness is praised, then it can be perfectly rational for a person to screw others over as long as they know they won't personally get in trouble. I never got a good response from Objectivists about this.


If it helps; I agree with your assessment that someone could totally screw others over as long as they were sure wouldn't personally get in trouble for it. That is pretty much at the core of the argument.

I recall a case in Australia where someone mailed seniors saying 'you own shares valued at $X. I will buy them off you for half that. Please respond' and made a substantial profit from the scheme. Objectivism accepts that as a moral situation.

I can't see any elements of the No True Scotsman fallacy here however hard I look - the philosophy is that when someone is truthful and follows through with what they say they will do then they are being moral. There isn't even an objection to people being altruistic; the only objection is forced altruism.

It isn't a friendly philosophy but it is quite clear as far as moralities go. Nothing escapes from shades of grey.


Okay cool. So no matter who the mark is (an elderly person, or a child) you can just take them for a ride if you're honest and she finds that moral. Btw in your example, in order to make a profit the shares must have been worth more than $2X in reality so the person lied and they didn't check the lie.

But what part of her philosophy says you must be honest in everything? Selfishness may entail lying, especially in sales (if you don't at the least creatively omit things, someone else who does will eat your lunch).

In addition, if you didn't promise anything, you can go ahead an just steal or screw everyone as long as you don't get caught. Check out example #1 and #2 and tell me where Ayn Rand's theory says you can't do that:

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=I%20Got%20Mi...


I'll just remind you I'm not an objectivist, I'm just trying to explain how I see it working. It does seem pretty reasonable to me personally though so I'm happy to advocate for it.

> in order to make a profit the shares must have been worth more than $2X in reality so the person lied and they didn't check the lie.

No, you misunderstand, he told them the market price then offered them half the market price. He basically straight up told them they could sell them on the market for twice what he was offering.

I don't know the details of why they accepted, I think they didn't understand how to sell stock. They guy was scrupulously honest, he just offered them a jaw-droppingly bad and unfair deal.

> Okay cool. So no matter who the mark is (an elderly person, or a child)

I see an implicit question there. Yes, the elderly and children have no special protection under Objectivism. The objectivist treatment of how that could be acceptable is:

* For children, their parents have rational incentive to protect and nurture them (otherwise why have them? They cost a fortune). If something happens to the parents, there are individuals who will rationally adopt to (or maybe just want to).

* For the elderly, they have to make provisions for their ageing while they are younger. Much like what self-funded retirees try to do.

The objectivist argument is that children and the elderly aren’t protected very well by other standards of morality, which have not proven robust when tested. Stories of child suffering and taking advantage of the aged are not rare. Even extremely moral institutions (such as churches [1]) have committed atrocities. Objectivism doesn’t promise better outcomes for the weak, but objectivists don’t expect the situation to get worse for them.

> tell me where Ayn Rand's theory says you can't do that

#2 seems straightforward, workers have a supervisor who is paid to make sure they don’t do that. He sacks them if they are uncooperative.

The worker isn't particularly immoral, just stupid. He will be out of work.

#1 is really a question of how enforcing property rights fit into an objectivist society. My understanding is that:

1) People agree rationally that they need an enforcement entity to protect property rights and personal freedoms.

2) This is either organised collectively through a government or individually through some sort of insurance-like mechanism.

3) Theft is dealt with.

There are some interesting subtleties here:

- Yes, if old mate unionist can get away with it then in a sense maybe he gets away with it on the moral scale too. To some degree, it falls to property owners to enforce property rights.

- Objectivists can actually work collectively if everyone is contributing voluntarily. The idea would be that anyone who doesn’t contribute to the policing service wouldn’t get protection but also wouldn’t be prejudiced against.

- Yes, in practice I can’t see this working in a philosophically pure way. This isn’t actually a problem for an objectivist any more than for anyone else who notices that their government doesn’t always represent their own moral preference. If the world were run by objectivists, you’d get a very basic service where it is easier to see that people are receiving assistance in proportion to their contributions. Americans, for example, believe in a fairly radical freedom of speech but still prohibit some very specific restrictions.

- Objectivists can indeed form armies. Old-school Athenian Greek democracy is probably a template for how they would like o see that sort of thing run.

[1] https://theconversation.com/royal-commission-recommends-swee...


>Ayn Rand was very much about following through with commitments.

Well, he had a commitments to himself and he followed through. What he promised to others was just BS, and since being selfish is OK, I don't see what's non-Randish about it.


Reminds me of my mormon days: if things turn out well, it was because of God/righteousnsss. When things turned out bad, it was because of the devil.

100% postdictive. 0% predictive.


Also known as a True Scotsman.


Tezos was set up in a way to avoid any sort of regulatory scrutiny. Remember the ICO wasn't an ICO. It was a 'donation' in which no obligations were promised toward the donators.

They can't change their minds later and cry about it when Breitman wants to try to implement a takeover.


https://www.finews.com/news/english-news/29947-monetas-bankr...

The couple now accuses Gevers, who also invested in the ICO, of helping himself to an outsize bonus from the proceeds. Gevers remains the foundation head, and is poised to emerge from the conflict as the unexpected winner, as finews.com reported last week.


Translation: A bunch of 20-something kids thought they could handle complex international legal business structure. No.


Not feeling pity for someone who raised hundreds times more than needed, yet failed to deliver ("16 Aug 2017 - Tezos network launches").

Not getting access to 500 millions (at today's market caps actually) is a reason they can't manage to write some code on time? Doubt so.


Switzerland has been searching for a new USP in finance since the end of banking secrecy, which, together with digital and regulatory change, will marginalize our private banking market position that was so incredibly profitable in the past.

So politicians look to either Fintechs (which are as weak as our startup culture in general) or the hype around the ‚Crypto Valley‘ in Zug which wasn’t homegrown and is primarely driven by a scam-friendly environment provided by government & regulator in combination with path-dependency.

Unfortunately, this will likely end even worse reputationally than being the token (ha!) money hiding place. See the Tezos debacle which is only a glimpse into what will happen when the cryptocurrency house of cards falls apart. Id rather have them be a bit more cautious now as is Swiss tradition and be ready for the more serious ‚rebirth’ afterwards.


I don't think being a safe place to store money is reputationally harmful.


It is when you get caught with (2017 USD$ adjusted) around $6B in stolen Nazi gold.


You're implying that Switzerland has stolen gold from Germany. Is that true?


I'm pretty sure no one thought that's what I was implying.


If you're trying to be a safe and trustworthy place to store money, your morality shouldn't have any effect on your customers.

If they can store stolen gold for Nazis without running away with it or telling anybody about it, then I'm sure they can safely store money for me as well.


This may be true for your individual reputational valuing of Swiss banks, but isn't for a worldwide one.

And worldwide reputation matter because functional finance, like networking, requires peering at some point.

Major countries have a lot of leverage they can bring when the public is on their side. Viz Swiss secrecy / tax evasion laws being forceably cracked by "terror money" pressure.


> Switzerland has been searching for a new USP in finance since the end of banking secrecy

Money laundering was a stain on our country. Swiss private wealth managers have a unique heritage of experience in managing multinational fortunes. UBS and Credit Suisse are also, while not traditional Swiss private banks, international economic titans. The continued profitability of Swiss banking contradicts your view regarding secrecy and a loss Swiss banking sector.


> UBS and Credit Suisse are also, while not traditional Swiss private banks, international economic titans.

More like giant Golems using mud-made feet for walking. As far as I know UBS was in a very difficult position around 2012-2013 (I wouldn't call it one step away from folding, but it was close to that nonetheless), and it managed only recently to re-put itself in a more stable position (thanks to a new management team). Credit Suisse has also lost most of its allure, they're not in any way swimming with the big boys anymore. So I wouldn't call these two banks "titans" anymore.


Look at the facts, UBS and Credit Suisse are in the top 5 for assets under management banks in the private banking world (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_banking ). Also in top rankings for investment banking ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investment_banking ).


UBS pushed more into private banking after the new team was put in place, but I might be wrong on that. Credit Suisse in not in the top 10 in the investment banking chart, and is placed between Barclays and Deutsche Bank, two Golems themselves. To put it into perspective, AIG was the biggest insurer in the world up until the day of its fallout, I wouldn't read too much out of these charts, just a couple of days ago there was an opinion peace in the Financial Times (or maybe the Economist) decrying how Goldman Sachs has lust its shine even though it's placed second in the IB chart. In this industry (one based on trust) momentum is everything.


Nobody is saying UBS or Credit Suisse are well-run companies. The original post argued Swiss banking is rudderless without money laundering. UBS and CS are valid counterpoints, in being diversified international heavyweights. Their profits may be mirages, along with Deutsche Bank and Barclays. But that is a different argument than "they're screwed because they can't launder money anymore."


I was arguing more against the “international titans” thing, I personally think that it is too risky for a relatively small country like Switzerland to stand behind not one but two such big financial institutions and I also think that the two banks’ recent retreat is a realization (by their stakeholders) of this obvious truth. The size thing is why they were closer to folding up compared to a bank like Deutsche, who has been run worse but which the German Government would never let default. On the other hand, the Swiss Government doesn’t have enough reserves to bail out either of them, they probably realized that they don’t want to be the next Iceland hence the banks’ change of course.

Bottom line is that you can only make big money on the international financial markets if your financial “home” market is big enough and if your “home” authorities (the Government) is ready to back you up if anything bad happens by using said home market to pump you up and keep you afloat. The Swiss financial market is just not big enough to keep either CS or UBS afloat in case either of them is about to go down like Lehman.


To be honest, Zug as "crypto-valley" is more a thing they show to foreigners. Most crypto-events and meetups happen in Zurich.

Also fresh startups rather open an office in Zurich other than Zug to have access to talent from ETH and an actual city to attract more people.

Since years I know the crypto community rather well and people are indeed very passionate about making the world a better place. I know people in Zurich, who are invested both with money and time in Bitcoin since it exists because they believe in it.

>"Switzerland's strong support for crypto is seemingly in direct contrast to France’s apparent distaste for this space with the French Minister stating regarding bitcoin: “I don’t like it."

This is a great example how Switzerland is different. Contrary to the rest of Europe, the Swiss choose to be pragmatic about almost all important topics: Taxes, healthcare, education system take somewhat the best parts from socialist Rest-of-Europe and more cut-troat/capitalist America and leave out the bad parts.

If you want to know more about Switzerland, here a blogpost I wrote 4 years ago and which is still valid today: "Eight reasons why I moved to Switzerland to work in tech" https://medium.com/@iwaninzurich/eight-reasons-why-i-moved-t... (disclaimer: I am a recruiter hunting for tech talent all over Europe to join Swiss companies. If you look for a tech job e-mail me at iwan@coderfit.com.)


> This is a great example how Switzerland is different. Contrary to the rest of Europe, the Swiss choose to be pragmatic about almost all important topics: Taxes, healthcare, education system take somewhat the best parts from socialist Rest-of-Europe and more cut-troat/capitalist America and leave out the bad parts.

Very interested in what is happening in Zug but I don't know how far are you going with the pragmatism. Just thinking about all the money that went there, including Nazi money.


Real World Crypto was there last week! Which is one if not the most important crypto conference of the year. So they have that going for them already.


> people are indeed very passionate about making the world a better place.

And how exactly do they plan to do this?


Yay. Now that the bank money laundering game is drying up due to international regulation, Switzerland can find a new parasitic way to earn money helping corrupt oligarchs hide their stash.


Not to disagree with you, but aren't cryptocurrencies also working towards this same goal? I mean, what do you think would happen when you have a secret way to hide your wealth in such a way that nobody can tie it to your name? In fact, isn't that the point of cryptocurrencies?

I'm just trying to figure out, what you think cryptocurrencies are for, if not, for individuals to have a means of cash (and/or wealth storage) decoupled from the state.


I think the two killer apps for crypto are money laundering and tax evasion which are two core competencies of the Swiss economy so their moves here are not surprise.


The biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is actually very transparent and its biggest concern is being decentralized and censorship resistant, so that governments can't have direct control over its inflation or are able to censor transactions (for example to Wikileaks, which happens with USD)


not all cryptos are about that. many others put decentralisation first and are OK with transparency. but the latter, of course, clashes with the idea of a nation state trying to become _the_ crypto nation.


Tangential, not really important comment: As someone not immersed in the world of cryptocurrency, this article read very strangely to me. Like reading a cyberpunk’s journal.


That's why I have a soft spot for Bitcoin/Blockchain, despite all the nonsense; it's one of the few things that gives me the felling of living in the future.


Switzerland Cryptostory worth remembering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypto_AG#Compromised_machines


I think Estonia is closer to being a Cryptonation.


I had to wait the third paragraph to read "blockchain", and the fifth to read "cryptocurrency".

And here I thought it was about the uses of cryptography, with possible mentions of ProtonMail (which is based in Switzerland).


The title made me think of another kind of crypto - the Swiss company Crypto AG is infamous for selling backdoored-by-the-NSA cipher machines to many governments around the world.


More interestingly, real world crypto one of the most important crypto conference in the world was held there a week ago. It's not always there, I believe they rotate between palo alto and new york. All the talks are available on youtube.


The goal is to do away with physical cash to better monitor the flow of capital, with absolute control and oversight into every penny spent. Fight against digital only currencies at every vote.


I might be wrong, but wasn't something like this in an early William Gibson book?


Erm hard no on them (again) becoming the world's vault with no accountability.


I'm pumped to see the whac-a-mole govt's will try to do with crypto.


I really hate that crypto currency enthusiasts are tring to hijack the word "crypto" for their ventures when they are actually only operating in a very narrow field of cryptography.

Don't let this speak infest HN, please.


It's not a hijack, it's just how trends and language work.

If you want "crypto" to be used for something else, you have to make that something else. Crypto communication, crypto news, etc. If "crypto currency" is the only common term to start with "crypto" that most people know about, it's going to be shortened, and represent that one thing.

Crypto currency is more top-of-mind to the population at large, than cryptography as a general category. If there are more specific implementations of useful crypto that average people use as a product (like currency, not, say, SSL), then crypto will be detached from the concepts and come to represent all of them (cryptography) again.


> If there are more specific implementations of useful crypto that average people use as a product

Except that encryption is rarely used explicitly. We see this greed padlock, maybe. But encryption is rarely a product. It's part of other products (web browsers, messengers…).

I doubt cryptography will become more visible through that venue. People need some level of education to even notice they're using encryption, signatures, and certificates pretty much all the time.


>It's not a hijack, it's just how trends and language work.

Not all trends and language changes are good. N-word was trending once too, to give an extreme example.


On the other hand, maybe if Switzerland becomes the "crypto-nation," its citizens and politicians will support anything related to "crypto" and deny any anti-encryption bans, too.

I'm actually starting to believe that the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies will forever seal the fate of encryption backdoors and any such ideas from politicians/law enforcement. No one will dare to make such comments 10 years from now, if 30% of the U.S. economy will be based on encryption-using cryptocurrencies.


Cryptocurrencies do not really use encryption for anything, do they?


They use digital signatures, which involves encrypting the hash of the message (in this case, the transaction) with a private key.


I wouldn't call that encryption. It's a distinct primitive.


The process is literally encryption; the distinction comes only from how that encryption is used.


It is definitely not encryption. I believe it initially came from non-interactive zero knowledge protocols. See for example Schnorr signatures: https://cryptologie.net/article/193/schnorrs-signature-and-n...


The process takes a plaintext message (c) and uses a algorithm and a private key to encode it into ciphertext (d), which is then decoded by the recipient using a public key.

What definition of encryption do you use that doesn't fit this process?


It does not encode it into a ciphertext at all. Did you read the article? You do not get back the message, actually there is no way to get back to the message with this signature.


In this case, the hash is the message being encrypted. It's the (c), as I indicated in my previous post. The text being signed is not encrypted, but the signature still involves encryption.


Do you have a source that calls this encryption? Is modular multiplication what you're calling encryption? I'm really confused.

Bytheway definition of encryption: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encryption


Yeah, but everybody can decrypt it. It's a public key cryptosystem, but it's not going to help fighting against backdoors because it doesn't need one in the first place.


This. Only reason I read these comments was to see if someone would say this.

The word "crypto" is too important to be lost this way. Any ideas how we can get people to knock this off?


I consider it a doubleplusungood attack on my thinking, so I'm also interested in some way to fight against it.

All I can come up with is to consistently interpret it as cryptography and force people to reexplain themselves if they say nonsense.


I do honestly interpret it as cryptography every time I read it. I was expecting an article about a digital identity system.


I think it's too late. People aren't going to stop calling wireless headsets "Bluetooths" either.


Now you know how people in AI outside of deep learning feel :)


My first thought, seeing the title, was about Swiss banks caving to IRS/FBI over secret bank accounts. So why would anyone trust them? But then, I get that this has nothing to do with privacy.


You can't tell me and my crypto quantun AI blockchain startup what to do!


Oh thank god I'm not the only one who thinks this. It drives me crazy!


It is fascinating seeing words' interpretation change and shift. For crypto this process seems almost already over.


[flagged]


Eye roll. Yes, securing our Internet traffic and protecting our sensitive data is nothing compared to technologies that allow us to pay for drugs online or print get-rich-quick coins out of thin air for ICOs.


[flagged]


I don’t think this line of commenting is helpful or appropriate for the community of Hacker News.


Exactly my thoughts about the parent.


Exactly. Www.cryptoisnotcryptocurrency.com

Please change the title mods


I normally am in favour of using precise language, but there's no way to argue that "crypto" should mean "cryptography" rather than "cryptocurrencies" other than "it's what was popular" - the crypto- prefix can be applied to many things. https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/crypto-#Prefix


And what cryuptocurrency is Swiss going to adopt? One of the 1000s listed here at https://www.coingecko.com/en

Or we talking bout private chain cryptocurrency


I don't know why anybody needs any country to hide their stash at this point. Monero, Zcash already can do this.


You can stash the stash but can you cash the stash and spend the cash?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: