Privacy rules, tax shelters and the future history of art

 

After a banner year of 2021 for individual object sales through nonfungible tokens (NFTs), 2022 is poised to be the year of MetaFi. A recap of Beeple, Christie’s, Visa and endless aping-in celebrities hardly feels necessary, except to point out that we seem to be standing on (or perhaps have already crossed over) a fundamental precipice. While the rocket-propelled ascent of NFT prices will not continue forever, numerous voices have predicted that a mature tech stack for discovering, vetting, valuing, trading and protecting collections of digital assets will soon emerge, without a crash.

But these optimistic takes may even be selling the area short. Namely, the premise of the “NFT-Fi” sector is to create value through liquidity, but it has remained an unstated assumption that this liquidity would be confined fundamentally to the world of crypto itself. While it is still early days, those boundaries may be eroding, and we may all need to open our meta-apertures even wider. In this regard, Switzerland stands out among numerous countries that have only started to pilot experiments with central bank-backed digital currencies (CBDCs). The confederacy of cantons, home to both Davos and Art Basel, is known for its rich history of innovation in both creative and financial assets, and its moves are worth tracking closely.

At the end of last year, the Six Digital Exchange (SDX), the digital entity of the SIX Group, the financial services company that operates the infrastructure of the Swiss national stock exchange, considered opening up their exchange to NFTs. This possible move dovetails with the advancement of a major experiment with CBDC. Taken together, these early steps will lend credence and endorsement to both digital currencies and the NFT secondary market, integrating many kinds of digital holdings more closely into the fabric of Swiss finance, itself.

To say that the international regulatory perimeter of tokenized assets is inchoate or poorly understood would be a wild understatement. Legal ambiguity, bad…

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