Get informed about how to buy and spend bitcoin in Switzerland in this practical guide.
Switzerland has long been on the cutting edge of banking, finance and the use of alternative currencies. It is not surprising then that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are already widely available to the general public. In Switzerland, you can;
- Buy Bitcoin At Cryptocurrency ATMs
- Buy Bitcoin Online
1. Buying bitcoin at cryptocurrency ATMs
Buying bitcoin in Switzerland is much easier than buying bitcoin in many other countries. Bitcoin can be purchased at hundreds of automated teller machines (ATMs) and ticket vending machines across Switzerland. While this option is fast and simple, it is not recommended because of the high costs.
You can purchase 100–500 Swiss francs worth of bitcoins at a time at any SBB/CFF railway station which has an automated ticket vending machine. You can pay with cash or using a debit card. Bitcoin purchases at SBB ticket vending machines are transacted by Swiss service provider Sweepay and Malta-based broker The Rock Trading. You pay a fee equal to 6% of the transaction.
In addition to the SBB/CFF, a number of other bitcoin services operate ATMs at which you can purchase bitcoin. These include Värdex, Bity and BitC. Värdex charges a fee of 1.50 Swiss francs plus a commission (7%-9%) per ATM buy or sell transaction. Bity’s commissions vary between ATMs, ranging from 3% to 5% for buy transactions and between 3.7% and 5.5% for sell transactions. ATMs from all of these service providers accept Swiss francs in cash for bitcoin purchases.
Pay careful attention to the bid-ask spread, as this can add a big additional cost.
2. Buying bitcoin online
Bitcoin can also be purchased online via cryptocurrency trading platforms. The fees are generally much lower than those applicable to bitcoin ATMs.
The online trading platform from Swissquote, a licensed Swiss bank and stock broker, includes the option of buying bitcoin and storing it in a secure wallet managed by the bank. Swissquote currently only lets you buy bitcoin with euros or US dollars. It charges brokerage fees of 1% (transaction size: 5000 to 10,000 francs), 0.75% (CHF 10,001 to 50,000 francs), 0.5% (50,001 to 500,000 francs).
Bitcoin Suisse, a Swiss blockchain services provider, operates a cryptocurrency exchange platform on which you can buy bitcoin with Swiss francs. You pay a fee equal to 1.25% of the transaction value every time you buy or sell. In addition to brokerage, Bitcoin Suisse also offers staking (bitcoin savings accounts) as well as Lombard loans collateralized by bitcoin.
Lykke, another Swiss cryptocurrency service provider, lets you buy bitcoin using Swiss francs via its app or its online platform. It does not charge brokerage fees. Lykke’s fees are worked into its buy and sell spreads. If you withdraw bitcoin from Lykke to another wallet, you pay a fee of 0.0005 bitcoin per bitcoin transfer.
Bity also operates an online platform for buying and selling bitcoin. You can buy bitcoin with Swiss francs. As with Lykke, fees are worked into the buy and sell pricing.
Foreign bitcoin marketplaces provide an alternative to purchasing bitcoin through a Swiss broker. Some platforms charge significantly lower fees than Swiss brokers. However, buying bitcoin is an act of trust because if a service provider can access your private keys, they can theoretically steal your bitcoin. Make sure to use only highly-reputable bitcoin marketplaces.
If you have to change Swiss francs into a foreign currency (euros or dollars, for example) in order to buy bitcoin, make sure to account for the currency exchange cost and exchange risk.
As with bitcoin ATMs, you must pay careful attention to bid-ask spreads. Avoid using market orders. Instead, use limit orders to set a limit on how much you are willing to pay for bitcoin.
Where can you use bitcoin?
Currently, the number of merchants which accept bitcoin worldwide — primarily small businesses — is approximately 100,000. That means bitcoin has a total acceptance similar to that of some of the least-circulated fiat currencies.
Approximately 100 Swiss merchants and service providers currently accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services. That means bitcoin is even less widely accepted in Switzerland than Swiss community currencies like Reka (over 4300 participating merchants), the Farinet (approximately 130 participating merchants) and WIR francs (approximately 30,000 participating merchants).
Notable Swiss service providers which accept bitcoin include online retailer Galaxus (a 1.5% service fee applies), the municipal government of the City of Zug, and catalog/online retailer Lehner Versand.
Because of its low level of acceptance, it is fair to say that bitcoin is not a viable alternative to the Swiss franc with regards to engaging in trade. However, it is worth noting that bitcoin is backed by an international community. So, although few merchants accept it for payments, you will find at least some merchants which accept it in many different countries.
Bitcoin as an investment
Up until now, bitcoin has primarily served as a speculative instrument, with ongoing investment in bitcoin fueling price hikes and price hikes fueling demand. While bitcoin could be purchased for a fraction of a centime when they first appeared in 2009, bitcoins could be sold for well over 8000 Swiss francs per bitcoin in 2020 — just 11 years later.
Whether or not the price of bitcoin will continue to increase is impossible to predict. Factors which play a role in determining the future usefulness of bitcoin include: community support; legislation; competition from other cryptocurrencies; interest on the part of speculators; supply levels; acceptance by merchants; technical problems; continued development; market liquidity (demand for bitcoin from buyers willing to pay in government-backed fiat currencies).
If you are interested in bitcoin as an investment, you can find useful information in the guide to investing in bitcoin.