Ex-CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo Joins Swiss Effort to Fund COVID Relief Projects


The Swiss crypto exchange leading a $200,000 effort to support tech-driven solutions to the coronavirus-led economic crisis has snagged a high-profile advisor: former U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo.

The Lykke-led Open Initiative will give four grants of 50,000 Swiss Francs ($51,300) to projects in four areas: a digital vouchers platform for small businesses to receive government funding; a supply chain platform; a real-time economic information system; and a research initiative geared toward crisis management.

“Seeing the pandemic I realized that governments were taking reactive measurements and I soon realized there was a big gap to be filled by doing proactive measures,” said Lykke CEO Richard Olsen. 

For example, the voucher platform might solve issues around government loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Olsen said. Many governments have difficulty tracking the uptake and progress of such programs, and smaller governments have issues distributing loans in the first place.  

Most of Giancarlo’s advisory work, including his creation of the Digital Dollar Foundation, has been U.S.-centric. With the Open Initiative, the ex-CFTC chair wanted to participate in something “very cross-border and very international,” he said.

While blockchain-related technologies are preferred, Lykke hasn’t set any rules as to what kind of technologies applicants propose. Lykke is currently assembling a team of international experts who will serve as a jury to judge each proposal, Olsen added.

“These projects will help the official sector better understand how financial markets are changing marketplaces, changing delivery systems and changing modern life,” Giancarlo said in an interview. “It will also help regulators do better at jobs that have been set out for them by national legislatures and international bodies.”

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