Within the Greater Zurich Area, Zug has emerged as a hotspot for fintech startups, home to some of the world largest and most renowned blockchain projects and networks including Ethereum, Cardano and Polkadot.

The canton is primarily known for hosting the so-called Crypto Valley, the largest blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) ecosystem worldwide that now counts over 430 blockchain-focused startups and organizations. But it also features a vast and diverse community of fintechs involved in other segments including digital banking and trading.

To get a sense of some of the hottest fintech startups from Zug, we’ve selected six fast-growing companies that have made notable strides over the past year, either by receiving backing from prominent investors, securing regulatory approval, or because they’ve recorded strong growth, and which are now worth watching closely.

For this list, we’ve excluded public networks and infrastructures with trading tokens, and focused on independent, venture capital (VC)-backed startups headquartered in Zug.

Bitcoin Suisse

bitcoin suisse switzerland hottest startups

Founded in 2013, Bitcoin Suisse is a regulated financial intermediary offering prime brokerage, trading, custody, lending, staking and other crypto-financial services for private and institutional clients.

A cryptocurrency pioneer and market leader, Bitcoin Suisse has helped shape the crypto and blockchain ecosystem in Switzerland, acting as a driving force in the development of the Crypto Valley and Crypto Nation Switzerland.

Over the past year, the company has witnessed strong growth with revenue jumping to CHF 70.3 million in H1 2021, from CHF 14.3 million in H1 2020, it said in a shareholder update. The Zug-based company said profit was at an eight-year record but didn’t disclose the number. In the past 18 months, it increased headcount from 120 to 260.

Bitcoin Suisse has raised US$50.5 million in funding and is worth US$450 million, according to blockchain-focused VC investor CV VC.

SEBA Bank

SEBA Bank

SEBA Bank, a Swiss bank licensed by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), is a pioneer in the financial industry, providing a bridge between digital and traditional assets.

The company claims to be the only global smart bank providing a fully universal suite of regulated banking services in the emerging digital economy, allowing clients to invest, safely keep, trade and borrow against traditional and digital assets, as well as issue tokens all in one place.

In September 2021, SEBA Bank became the custodian bank focused on digital assets to be granted a license to custody collective investment schemes. The new license extends SEBA Bank’s fully integrated digital asset investment activities by offering digital custody services for Swiss domiciled mutual funds

SEBA Bank has raised US$136 million in funding and is worth US$360 million, according to CV VC.

Smart Valor

Smart Valor

Founded in 2017, Smart Valor operates a fully compliant digital asset and crypto exchange, allowing users to trade cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ether. The platform features advanced trading tools, staking services, security and custody, and support for many fiat currencies including CHF, EUR, GBP and the USD.

On top of its infrastructure, Smart Valor has built out a decentralized marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), derivatives and security tokens.

Smart Valor, which operates under a license from the Financial Market Authority Liechtenstein (FMA), is eyeing a distributed ledger technology (DLT) stock exchange license in Switzerland, co-founder and chair Olga Feldmeier told Swissinfo in October 2021.

The company recently raised CHF 3 million in funding and is now looking at a range of European exchanges on which to list, including Deutsche Boerse and Swedish-based Nasdaq First North Growth Market, she told the media outlet.

21Shares

21Shares

21Shares, formerly Amun, aims to provide investors with an easy, secure, and regulated way to buy, sell, and short cryptocurrencies through existing bank and brokerage accounts.

It does so by issuing crypto exchange-traded products (ETPs). ETPs are securities that offer investors exposure to the cryptocurrency market without having to worry about custody or owning the underlying asset. By investing through an ETP, investors can benefit from institutional-class custody, simplified trading through a standard brokerage account, greater liquidity, and transparent trading. 21Shares’ crypto ETPs are currently tradable on nine European exchanges including SIX, Xetra and Euronext.

As of October 5, 2021, 21Shares managed more than US$2 billion in 17 cryptocurrency ETPs and 77 listings, including the world’s only ETPs tracking Binance, the Crypto Index Basket and two ETPs with investor staking rewards (Tezos and Solana).

21Shares has raised US$7.5 million in funding and is worth US$250 million in funding, according to CV VC.

Open Mineral

Open Mineral

Open Mineral is an online exchange for physical commodities. Founded in 2017, Open Mineral’s cloud-based exchange platform directly connects concentrate producers with smelters and offers tender management, trade execution services, contract execution monitoring, document tracking, and exchange as well as reporting and analytics, enabling producers to increase profitability through efficient, direct and transparent transactions.

Open Mineral says its platform has registered more than 900 metals and mining companies across the world. The startup has raised more than US$40 million in funding, including a US$33 million Series C funding round in September.

Klarpay

Klarpay

Klarpay is an early stage startup freshly licensed by FINMA building what it claims to be the first borderless multi-currency account in Switzerland dedicated to e-commerce, digital entrepreneurs and social media influencers.

When live, Klarpay will be offering over 436 payment acceptance methods in more than 96 regions. Additionally, Klarpay will be able to disburse funds to 169 countries in 65 locally preferred methods. Customers will be able to store funds in CHF, EUR, USD, GBP and other currencies, in Swiss IBAN accounts.

The company plans to start onboarding clients by the end of the 2021. According to Crunchbase, Klarpay raised US$1.1 million in pre-seed last year. Founders Martynas Bieliauskas and Mihkel Vitsur have also contributed their own capital of US$6.5 million.

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