Think of a time when you were talking about the lives of the wealthy with a group of people. Alternatively, think of when you were watching or listening to something and the topic of the rich comes up. Among the more common terms that come up during those discussions is ‘Swiss bank account’. Such a thing is synonymous to millionaires or, at the very least, the moderately wealthy.
However, the question that we should be asking is, “What exactly is it?” We know it relates to the rich, but what else?
As it turns out, Swiss bank accounts are not just for millionaires. Moreover, it is not just for criminals or government officials trying to conceal ill-gotten wealth. It is not limited to celebrities protecting their assets either. In fact, they are available to just about anyone and a lot of regular people have these accounts. People living in countries with volatile governments and banks, to be specific. These particular people often turn to Swiss banks largely because of their security and privacy.
The Swiss Banking Law of 1934 made it illegal for Swiss banks to reveal an account holder’s name. In a sense, this is akin to the confidentiality protections between doctors and patients or lawyers and clients. Above all else, these protections are what makes Swiss bank accounts so popular with banking customers all over the globe.
How does opening them work?
The Swiss bank you will ultimately deal with depends largely on what types of investments you want to make. Moreover, what type of account you want to have will be. There is something important to remember regarding the selection. Unless you don’t care about privacy, you should not choose a bank that has a branch in your country. There is a requirement for bank branches to follow the laws in the countries in which they reside. This, of course, does not include where the corporate bank office resides. For example, the privacy capabilities of a Swiss bank branch in the U.S. is no greater than a standard U.S. bank.
The type of account you open draws from the number of investments you want access to. Furthermore, it depends on the amount of money that you want to sustain in the account. Basically, the more extensive the investment services and options are, the higher the mandatory balance for the account. In addition, you can access a safe deposit box at a Swiss bank.
It’s a surprise to many that opening a Swiss bank account is similar to opening a conventional bank account. First and foremost, you need to fill out forms and provide documentation that proves who you are. Because of special circumstances concerning privacy, the level of scrutiny oversupplying official identity documentation is comparatively more stringent. An example of this would be needing to show your official passport in order to provide your identity. A regular driver’s license will usually be enough in the U.S.
There is also an array of minimum balance requirements that rely heavily on the type of account you want. These can often range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars.
Can I have one?
Those who are not residents of Switzerland have to be at least 18 years old to open a Swiss bank account. In the grand scheme of things, that is about the only restriction.
Account-holders are able to select their currency. A majority of them opt to hold their funds in either Swiss Francs, Euro, U.S. dollars, or British Pound Sterling. Most of the time, there is no requirement of minimum balance to open an account. However, once an account holder deposits funds, there is a minimum balance requirement. This tends to vary in accordance with the bank.
Swiss anti-money-laundering laws demand a potential Swiss bank account holder to supply various documents in order to open an account. These will typically include validated copies of your passport, as well as documents explaining your profession. Such things pertaining to this authentication include the following:
- Tax returns
- Company documents
- Professional licenses
- Proof of the source of your funds
- Other pieces of personal information
The primary benefits concerning Swiss bank accounts include the exceedingly low levels of financial risk. Moreover, they offer their clientele considerably high levels of privacy. The Swiss economy ranks as one of the most stable in the entire world. To further embellish this reputation, it has had no involvement in any economic conflicts in hundreds of years. What’s more, Swiss law requires that all banks have high capital provisions and strong depositor protection. This practically guarantees that all deposits will be safe and secure from any potential financial crisis.
Accounts that are held in Swiss Francs will receive a small amount of interest. With that said, they will also need to pay the Swiss withholding tax. It is for this reason that a majority of foreign account holders have their Swiss bank account in another currency.
In regards to privacy, Swiss law restricts the bank from disclosing information pertaining to an account without the depositor’s permission. This includes information about its very existence. The only exception to this prevention is if a government agency makes the claim that a depositor is participating in a serious criminal act. Alternatively, if the depositor has involvement in another financial issue, like bankruptcies, divorces, and/or inheritances.
Moreover, Swiss anti-money-laundering regulations have another important requirement. It’s mandatory for depositors to provide proof regarding the origin of the funds that they are putting in their accounts.
Cryptocurrency: how does it relate?
Up until now, the explanation of Swiss bank accounts has been relegated to fiat currency. We are in an awkward transition period where a traditional currency is no longer the only type of currency that exists. Now, we have digital currency; money that is not physical and is essentially just pieces of data. Connecting cryptocurrency with Swiss bank accounts does not sound plausible.
In actuality, they do relate to each other. There are layers to that connection, but it is there.
Back in 2016, Barack Obama made a comment about cryptocurrency, comparing it to a Swiss bank account:
“It would be as if everyone has a Swiss bank account in their pocket.”
However, he did not say it in a favorable manner. In fact, he spoke of it in a way that entices people to be fearful of the idea. Contrary to his statement, though, that is not at all the case. Bitcoin advocate, Andreas M. Antonopoulos, counteracted Obama’s comment with the following statement:
“Crypto is not like having a Swiss bank account in your pocket. Crypto is like having a Swiss bank in your pocket and you are the CEO.”
You are able to create millions of addresses on your own device, such as your phone. Not only that, but you can also enact international wire transfers or remittances, as well as KYC yourself. By having a bank account in your pocket, you are capable of engaging in an array of bank activities.
Regardless, those with enough clout are powerful enough to instill fear in the public concerning cryptocurrencies. This is especially true for those who do not have pre-existing knowledge about digital currencies. They believe they should be uneasy about it.
“The politics of fear”
It’s not uncommon for the government to incorporate fear when it comes to the topic of cryptocurrencies. Even though they are not without some justification, it doesn’t make instilling fear wholly right. Particularly not in the eyes of the general public. This is what many refer to as ‘the politics of fear’.
The core idea is that privacy is something that, in the peoples’ hands, can be very dangerous. This is largely because privacy is not only a commodity but also a right. What this means is that while some can afford it, others are unable to because of the rise in price.
The politics of fear is discreetly pushing the general public to be anxious about privacy. Furthermore, it is pushing them to be fearful of what happens upon the democratization of privacy. In Antonopoulos’ own words:
“The democratization of finance is about democratization of financial privacy.”
Financial privacy fully supports all of our rights (freedom of expression, freedom of political participation, etc.). Privacy itself is a fundamental right. Adding to that, financial privacy and power is something that we, the people, are gradually reclaiming.
Out of fear, some may give their financial privacy back to the government. The main idea behind the governmental fear of financial privacy is that the world will supposedly descend into chaos. Contrary to this popular belief, we have been using cash to conduct transactions for years. There have been no such cases of chaos from doing this. There were no names attached to it and it was untrackable, yet there was still no chaos. It is a peculiar thing to think that only now we should be fearful of this kind of privacy.
“The underlying idea in the politics of fear is not recognizing the fundamental asymmetry of good and evil.”
Good vs. Evil
The fact of the matter is, when you look at human society as a whole, there is a small number of people who do evil. The very idea of equaling them to the number of people who do good plays into the politics of fear. By engaging in these politics to punish the evil-doers, we are actively punishing everyone else. We do so by removing their capabilities of financial independence. What’s more, we give that capability and that surveillance to the government.
Overall, there are many more people out there trying to do good with their financial independence. That number surpasses the amount that is doing evil.
There is an idea to this in that the more free people are, the more good societal outcomes there are. By allowing people to pursue their own self-interests, it would ensure a better life for themselves and others. Over time, there has been a sense of abandonment of this idea to make way for complete control over everyone. In doing so, we are, whether unintentional or not, actively damaging hope for a better, stronger future.
Mitigating evil and maintaining balance
The remedy for all of the fallacies and evil that come from technology is ironically not less technology. Instead, the remedy is more technology; specifically, more good technology. Such is the case with balance, for every bad thing you can do with technology, there are many good things. As a matter of fact, you’re able to counteract some of these bad things by having more people do good.
The control of technology can result in unfavorable outcomes that defeat the purpose of this method of balance. When governments and other institutions attempt to control technology, they are reducing the number of good individuals. They are diminishing the number of people who could do good things with technology and negate evil.
The wrong people having an account in their pockets
Making it illegal to trade cryptocurrencies won’t stop certain people from trading cryptocurrencies. Those who are responsible for signing the law are likely to be the first to illegally trade cryptocurrencies. They will be open to bribery because the idea of having a Swiss bank account in your pocket is appealing.
With all of this in mind, imagining the possibility of having a Swiss bank account in your pocket isn’t outlandish. This is because most criminals that focus on financial offenses already have that. They have banking privacy because they are fortunate (or rather, unfortunate) enough to afford it. Realistically speaking, it is the rest of us – the general public – who do not have this.
To reiterate, there is a prevention of people using technology for good in order to punish the few who are doing evil. By doing this, we are all losing. Antonopoulos builds on this by stating:
“The answer for dictators evading sanctions with cryptocurrency is citizens evading dictators with cryptocurrency.”
The core idea of fear
Countries that possess the least amount of bureaucracy for tax payments have the highest level of tax collections. These are also the countries that have governments who actually deliver on services that they promise. Contrary to popular belief, this does not stem from a fear of jail time for not paying taxes in Switzerland. Rather, it is because by paying taxes, you will receive something in return.
As previously stated, counteracting bad technology is only possible by the greater use of good technology. To fix problems that arise with the introduction of new technology, we have to use new technology. We did not get to where we are in the modern world by fixing new problems with obsolete solutions. We do not fix the pollution problems that come with cars by having horses pull them instead.
In the end, the central theme of the politics of fear is removing the power and centralizing it. This is an effective enough strategy to motivate evil acts on a larger scale. People are able to purchase drugs with bitcoin because according to Antonopoulos:
“…it’s a pretty good solution to a fundamental problem of asymmetric violence on the streets.”
Nobody funds war crimes or intelligent agencies that are killing millions of people with cryptocurrencies. When you give people access to crypto, it is possible for them to money-launder for drug lords. If these drug lords can evade with cryptocurrency, there are people who can evade drug lords with cryptocurrency as well.
For every problem, there exists a solution that depends heavily on faith in human nature. With this, we use that technology to do good on an asymmetric scale. This derives from the fact that there are far more people in the world who want to do good.
Benefits of using crypto
With the unfortunate reality that we live in a broken system, it makes Swiss bank accounts all the more appealing. In a way, residents of Switzerland are unable to empathize with the issue of government corruption that we are familiar with. For that matter, government corruption that we are sadly accustomed to. Switzerland residents don’t have a government that takes money from them and they have access to reliable banking.
The main question that comes from this is “Why do you need crypto?” There are various places like Venezuela, Argentina, China, and South America that need it. On the whole, it is a matter of freedom, of a better future, and of life and death. They are in need of crypto, but you’re not; not necessarily. So, once again, why do you use it? Why do you need to use it?
The answer comes from the fact that every time you use crypto, you exercise complete and total power. That power actively redirects money from a broken system of central banks and corrupt governments. This money instead goes to a system that provides people with substantial hope. Whenever you use crypto, you help fund projects that make pre-existing creations better. Specifically, you help the development of wallets and centralized exchanges.
There is an additional benefit to using crypto. You are funding research and new innovations that come into existence because of that research. Every time you use crypto, you are actively helping developers do better work, thus producing better innovations.
To put simply, by using cryptocurrency, you are doing more than going against the corrupt system. You are also going against the politics of fear. Whenever you use crypto, you are actively demonstrating the power and independence that you wield.
Breaking from the negativity
This generation has been fed many lies over the years that influence what we think and how we act. One of the biggest lies that we, the people, believe is that we do not have the power of any kind. If we do have any power, it is without value. Moreover, we are helpless to solve the problems in the world because we are small and insignificant. This induces hopelessness and apathy and renders hope for a better world as nothing more than a naive mindset.
From this, there comes a ludicrous idea that we can only exercise our power once every four (or two) years. We have the ability to vote; affect the way in which our government operates by casting a ballot. Whether you find this impactful or not, it is clear to see that the parties who run seldom challenge the status quo. Through a pessimistic mentality, none of it matters. Through an optimistic mentality, we still exercise our power to determine who runs the country.
This introduces us to two options. We can embrace the fact that we have no power except during that one period every four (or two) years. Alternatively, we come to the realization that we actually do have power beyond the voting season. What’s more, we can demonstrate that power every day by using and funding open financial products.
The people’s power
With this power, we are capable of building a brand new economy. At the same time, we can withdraw both our ingenuity and our labor from the broken economic system. We can withdraw our passion from an economy that we have been told, and that we believe, we are stuck in. By reclaiming our creativity, we can add more to the open financial future that we are constructing.
This process is no different than acknowledging your self-worth after years of believing you are worthless as a person. By breaking out of that toxic mindset, you will discover so much more about yourself and what you’re capable of. Moreover, you will realize just how much power you wield in a world trying to break you.
With that said, power is only one of two vital components. The other is a privilege. Each one of us has the privilege of having easy access to financial products that are otherwise life and death for many others. It is important that we utilize that privilege to exercise immense power to help create an open financial future. Not just for ourselves, but for the entire world.