To discuss one of the hottest topics in digital transformation, WEF participants had to get up early: on January 23, digitalswitzerland and Credit Suisse hosted an exclusive breakfast on the topic of opportunities and challenges of the digitization of money.

The panelists included Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board Swiss National Bank, Jörg Gasser, State Secretariat SFI, Sebastian Thrun, Chairman and Co-Founder Udacity and CEO Kitty Hawk Corporation, Katie Yang, the winner of the Credit Suisse Research Institute Academy Challenge 2018 and Marc Walder, CEO Ringier and founder of digitalswitzerland. The panel was moderated by Philipp Rösler, former Managing Director WEF.

«We do not regulate the technology, we regulate processes»

After an introduction by Urs Rohner, Chairman Credit Suisse Group, who remarked that awareness of digital evolution has increased over the last years, yet the transformation goes far beyond technological aspects, Federal President Ueli Maurer shared his thoughts on digitalization with the public. He expressed the need to judge the development and not the initial situation, the necessity for high flexibility and agility, the importance of data and the crucial question of security. Switzerland should be allowed to take a few risks, it’s about promoting new technologies, not stalling them, Maurer said.

Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank, agreed: «It is extremely important to have regulated processes. Rules should be more or less the same, while the technology can differ. For the Swiss financial sector, it is crucial to have certainty. » Commitment to an optimal regulatory framework in order to grow and foster innovation, was also underlined by Jörg Gasser, State Secretary SFI: «What we want to achieve is to foster this new environment that is about to be created in Switzerland. »

Jordan approached the discussion on the digitization of money serenely: “We see crypto tokens as an asset class, not as currencies. I don’t see any threat that we can’t control monetary policy anymore.»

The new normal is change

Sebastian Thrun, Chairman and Co-Founder Udacity and CEO Kitty Hawk Corporation, known for his collaboration with Google on the first autonomous car, among other things, cited Thomas Friedman to emphasize the point that we have to become used to constant change. Thrun sees digital transformation as a great opportunity, which will transform areas such as the way we work, but will also free us from repetitive work. According to him, another way to look at it is: «We can become experts and pick up skills much faster.»

Speed is also an important factor for the Federal President: «We should use the flexibility, our network and the relative small size of Switzerland to move forward rapidly. This is a strategic factor for Switzerland so that we are among the best.»

Pledge for a stronger Europe and the Geneva Digital Convention

Even though Switzerland performs well in international rankings, there are some areas where we still need improvement, Marc Walder, CEO Ringier and founder of digitalswitzerland, stressed once again. There is still a lot to be done in areas such as company start-ups, immigration laws, the promotion of women in science or electronic administration. He said: «Switzerland is ranked 5th in the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, Germany is 18, France 26, and Italy is 41. What we do in Switzerland is good, but we will not achieve our ambitions without Europe. Europe needs to be a stronger cluster.» At the end of the discussion, he asked for more rules in the cyberspace and suggested that Switzerland is in a perfect position to host the Digital Geneva Convention.

Launch of a lifelong learning initiative at the next Digital Day on 3 September

The necessity to constantly learn and develop new skills was discussed throughout the panel. From the beginning, digitalswitzerland is committed to the topic of education, hence the plan to launch an initiative for lifelong learning at the next Digital Day in September – as we are convinced that only if all of society, every individual, has access to digital education, can we stay ahead as a country.

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Author Nicolas Bürer, Managing Director digitalswitzerland

Managing Director

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