Finance & Technology Conference 2021 on Crypto-assets and Asset Tokenization

November 5th, 2021, Swiss Tech Convention Center, EPFL

Distributed Ledger Technology has the potential to reshape the traditional financial system. An example is decentralized finance, which allows people to combine open-source building blocks into sophisticated financial products utilizing DLT. Central banks, as another example, face growing competition from private actors offering their own digital alternative to physical cash. However, the current lack of clear legal and technological standards prevents market players and institutions from fully exploiting the potential DLT.

This conference features latest research and insights on crypto-assets and asset tokenization, and their impact on banking and financial market infrastructures. The event combines a broad spectrum of stakeholders, which combine legal and regulatory, technological, financial and economic as well as civil society perspectives. It addresses academics and practitioners alike, and shall foster the public dialogue and interaction across institutions.

This event is organized jointly by the Swiss Finance Institute @ EPFL and the Center for Digital Trust, EPFL.



Registration and Welcome Coffee


Welcoming Words

by Damir Filipovic – Professor, Head of the Swiss Finance Institute, EPFL

Legal & regulatory session

moderated by Damir Filipovic


Talk: DLT law and financial market infrastructure – a paradigm shift?

by Fedor Poskriakov – Partner at Lenz & Staehelin


In the age of digitalization, legal transactions should be capable of being concluded on a purely digital basis. Recognizing this need, Switzerland has amended several federal laws in order to improve the compatibility of legal concepts with evolving technological capabilities. With the entry in force of the DLT law, rights and claims can now be issued and managed as “ledger-based securities” using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). These amendments improve legal certainty and pave the way for the emergence of fully integrated financial market infrastructures for fully digital financial instruments and assets, across the full value chain, from issuance, to custody, trading and settlement.


Talk: New ways of doing business, same old problems?

by Mehmet Toral – Partner at id est avocats


DLTs, crypto-assets and tokenisation, decentralisation democratisation and trust, liquidity, efficiency and utility: we live in an age where technological constructs collide with social ideas and are nurtured by economic concerns to give birth to new ways of running business. Mehmet Toral will examine some new legal challenges created by new technologies and some old challenges that they fail to address, with a particular focus on governance.


Coffee Break

Finance & economics session

moderated by Damir Filipovic


Talk: Decentralized Finance: On Blockchain- and Smart Contract-based Financial Markets

by Fabian Schär – Professor for DLT and Fintech, Managing Director of the University of Basel’s Center for Innovative Finance


The term decentralized finance (DeFi) refers to an alternative financial infrastructure built on top of public blockchains. DeFi uses smart contracts to create protocols that replicate existing financial services in a more open, interoperable, and transparent way. In this talk Fabian will highlight opportunities and potential risks of the DeFi ecosystem.


Talk: Digital assets trading and trends

by Damien Ackerer – Senior Quantitative Researcher at Covario Prime Brokerage


In this talk Damien will give an overview of the market structure and market microstructure of digital assets trading on CEXes, DEXes, and OTC. He will also comment on recent trends such as the trading of NFTs.


Talk: From Cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and Diem to CBDCs

by Christian Catalini – Chief Economist, Diem Association at MIT


The talk will provide an overview of the evolving cryptocurrency, stablecoin and CBDC landscape, and focus on the economics of the technology and some of the core trade-offs it involves. It will also cover the economic Design of Diem and the implications the network may have on competition and innovation in payments and financial services.


Panel: Does asset tokenization create or destroy value?

moderated by Damir Filipovic – Professor, Head of the Swiss Finance Institute, EPFL


Damien Ackerer – Senior Quantitative Researcher at Covario Prime Brokerage

Christian Catalini – Chief Economist, Diem Association at MIT

Fabian Schär – Professor for DLT and Fintech, Managing Director of the University’s Center for Innovative Finance



Technology session

Moderated by Prof. Matthias Finger – Center for Digital Trust, EPFL


Talk: Privacy and scalability challenges of using digital assets

by Alessandro Chiesa – Professor and Head of the Laboratory for Computation Security, EPFL


In his talk Alessandro will explain how cryptographic proofs can be used to transfer digital assets more efficiently and more privately.


Talk: Security of digital asset platforms

by Jean-Philippe Aumasson – Co-Founder & CSO at Taurus SA


Jean-Philippe will present the challenges of protecting crypto assets, such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and tokenized securities, in the context of regulated financial organizations. Based on his experience designing and integrating digital asset management technology in Swiss financial institutions, he will review risks associated with crypto assets management, as well as deployment constraints, the shared responsibility model, and key ceremony procedures.


Talk: Decentralized finance: for the few, the many, or everyone?

by Bryan Ford – Professor and Head of the Decentralized and Distributed Systems Lab, EPFL


Cryptocurrencies and digital assets so far mainly target niche communities of technologists, investors, and finance specialists. CBDCs promise to roll out digital assets at national scales – but will they embody the right combination of privacy and accountability to ensure mass acceptance and appeal, while protecting social and economic freedoms and ensuring financial inclusion for all? Beyond government initiatives, can permissionless proof-of-personhood systems bring digital assets and decentralized finance to bear empowering people and communities anywhere, rich or poor, even in humanitarian crisis or conflict situations?


Coffee Break



Is CBDC the New Kid On The Block?

by Thomas Moser – Alternate Member of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank


Central banks in several jurisdictions are studying and experimenting with CBDC issuance. One of the open questions is whether central banks should use blockchain technology to do this, and if so, what kind. Key challenges are scalability and privacy, which are easier to address without blockchain technology. I will argue that CBDC does not necessarily need blockchain, but that blockchain is likely to need CBDC.

Closing panel discussion

moderated by Daniel Saraga – Scientific Writer and Founder of Saraga Communications


Trust in Crypto-Assets and Asset Tokenization?


Bryan Ford – Professor and Head of the Decentralized and Distributed Systems Lab, EPFL

Biba Homsy – Founder & Partner at Homsy Law Firm CH-LUX, Former Chief Compliance Officer at Credit Suisse and Former Regulator at FINMA

Thomas Moser – Alternate Member of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank

Fedor Poskriakov – Partner at Lenz & Staehelin


Conference end