The Swiss stock exchange is going to open a cryptocurrency exchange, which it claims will be the first of its kind in the world.
The plan, unveiled Friday by the Swiss stock exchange operator SIX, is to build a “fully integrated trading, settlement and custody infrastructure for digital assets,” in order to “provide a safe environment for issuing and trading” established cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and tokens issued in so-called initial coin offerings.
The custody aspect is notable, as the safety of stored cryptocurrencies is one of the big fears in this market.
“This is the beginning of a new era for capital markets infrastructures. For us it is abundantly clear that much of what is going on in the digital space is here to stay and will define the future of our industry,” said SIX CEO Jos Dijsselhof.
Here’s a promotional interview with the company’s head of securities and exchanges, Thomas Zeeb, in which he sets out the timeline for this project: SIX hopes to go live with this new exchange in the first half of 2019, regulatory permission pending.
SIX is not the first operator of a traditional stock exchange to get into cryptocurrency trading. The TMX Group, which runs the Toronto Stock Exchange, announced its own cryptocurrency brokerage service earlier this year, and Intercontinental Exchange, which own the New York Stock Exchange, is reportedly also toying with the idea.
However, while there is still institutional enthusiasm for the cryptocurrency space, virtual currencies aren’t doing so well right now. Bitcoin has crashed from the highs of almost-$20,000 that it reached in December. And while it looked earlier this week like things might be looking up in the space, on Friday the market was a sea of red, with Bitcoin down 1.8% on the day (to a current value of $6,595,) Ethereum down 3.3%, XRP down 4.5%, Bitcoin Cash down 4.8% and EOS down 5.5%.