You gave up your senior position at UBS in 2015 and changed from a major bank to the fledgling blockchain scene. What prompted you to take this step?

After over 20 years in the financial sector, I wanted to try something new and devote the second half of my career to being an entrepreneur. During a trip to Silicon Valley, I came across the topic of blockchain and was immediately fascinated by it. After in-depth study, I decided in 2015 to give in my notice at UBS and launch my first company, nexussquared, together with my co-founder.

With the incubator, nexussquared, and other initiatives, you are aiming to establish Zurich as a hub for blockchain technology. Have you already accomplished your mission?

We opened the blockchain hub, Trust Square, on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse in April 2018. Right from the outset, my aim was to create a place where startups and universities could come together and research into blockchain technology. At Trust Square, we have created space for 200 workstations and built up a research center in collaboration with various universities. At our weekly meetups and workshops, we promote not just specialist but also social exchange within the blockchain community. While this signifies an important step forward, our mission is still a long way off being completed. Now things are really taking off, and we need to establish Zurich and Switzerland as a sustainable blockchain eco-system.

Daniel Gasteiger began his career over 20 years ago as a foreign exchange dealer at Credit Suisse. Prior to starting his own business in the field of blockchain, he managed the office of the Chairman of UBS.

Which Zurich FinTech startups are you particularly impressed with?

I continue to be fascinated by Lykke. The founder, Richard Olsen, is a true visionary and his objectives for Lykke and blockchain as a whole are an inspiration to me. Besides Lykke, we have other very exciting projects in the field of FinTech at Trust Square. However, some of these are still operating in “stealth mode”– so it is too early to talk about them just yet.

Is there an exchange in terms of FinTech between research, politics, startups, and the major banks in the City on the Limmat?

Yes, more and more. We have a number of people on the political stage who are extremely interested in this topic and have recognized the opportunities that arise by focusing on this subject at an early stage. The ETH and the University of Zurich have already been working in this field for some time, and there are various professorships that are geared towards blockchain. In addition, an increasing number of startups are taking up residence in Zurich. This combination of factors gives me confidence that we are well on track.

Which Fin-Tech expert would you like to invite to Zurich to exchange experiences, and why?

I always enjoy discussions with my friend, Michael Casey, author of the book, “The Age of Cryptocurrency”. This book was the reason why I finally plucked up courage to give in my notice at UBS. But there are other fascinating people who are very open towards the topic of blockchain and the opportunities arising for FinTech and the financial system – such as Don Tapscott and William Mougayar, two very interesting visionaries.