Workforce Payments Guide Switzerland
Last updated: Dec 27, 2023
Papaya Global fully supports work force payments in Switzerland.
Papaya Global supports payments to contractors in Switzerland. The payout currency may vary based on the receiver bank account setup when receiving foreign currencies. It is advised for contractors to reach out to their bank to confirm how foreign currencies are handled.
|IBAN Example Switzerland
|IBAN in print
CH36 8914 4835 6195 5197 9
The Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process in Switzerland follows the guidelines set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). Swiss financial institutions, identify their clients and establish the beneficial owner’s identity, as well as collect information regarding customers’ business activities, relationships with Politically Exposed Persons, and record retention procedures. They also regularly screen their clients and their transactions against sanctions lists.
The KYC process also involves checking if business partners are trustworthy based on suspicious transactions or hits on a risk list such as sanctions lists or PEP lists. This is aimed at preventing white-collar crime or money laundering. For crypto transactions, FINMA requires Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of customers.
Since 2016, the KYC process has been digitalized into eKYC, which allows financial professionals to identify and verify a customer’s identity entirely remotely and digitally. Updated regulations took effect in January 2020, which include more stringent requirements.
There are several banking laws and regulations in Switzerland that can impact cross-border workforce payments:
Data Protection: The revised Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP) will come into force on 1 September 2023 and will apply to data pertaining to individuals. In EU/EEA cross-border relationships, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may also need to be considered, given its extraterritorial reach.
Cross-Border Payment Transactions: Banks like Credit Suisse have specific guidelines for cross-border payment transactions. These include the use of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) for quick and cost-effective euro payments in Europe. Additionally, global payments can be made in the currency of choice through their network of correspondent banks.
Double Taxation Agreement: There are also cross-border double taxation agreements that define the status of cross-border workers. For example, a cross-border worker is defined as an employee residing within 20 kilometers of the border returning to their residence on a daily basis.
Please note that there is no specific legislation or regulatory bodies that exclusively or predominantly govern cross-border financing in Switzerland. It’s recommended to consult with a legal expert or financial advisor for specific advice tailored to your situation.
Bank Account Opening
To open a company bank account in Switzerland, the following requirements are necessary:
- Identity documents of the company’s officers, directors, beneficial owners, and authorized signatories. This could be a passport, national identity card or any other legal document identifying a person.
- Proof of address for the officers, directors, beneficial owners, and authorized signatories of the company. This could be a utility bill or telephone bill.
- A certified copy of the company’s certificate of incorporation which should include information about the company name, company structure, and the names of the officers and directors.
- Detailed information about your company, such as its field of activity, annual turnover, number of employees, etc.
- Valid proof of ownership if you are the owner of the business. This could be an extract from the company register or a certificate of ownership.
- Tax documents, such as annual tax returns, account statements, and information on the sources of income of the business.
- Depending on the nature of your business and its activities, other documents may be required, such as licenses or regulatory approvals.
The process of opening the account involves choosing a suitable bank, gathering the necessary documents, filling in an application, and depositing the necessary funds. The deposited amount varies but for non-resident companies, the initial deposit is usually between US $500,000 and US $3,000,000.
After submitting all the required documents and meeting the deposit requirements, you wait for the bank’s approval to open your account. The process of opening a bank account in Switzerland can be complex and requires careful planning. It is also subject to the bank’s due diligence in relation to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, which may further delay the account opening process.
The process of opening a Swiss bank account can take about 3 weeks, although the exact length of time will depend on your situation and the bank’s compliance procedures.
The major foreign banks operating in Switzerland as mentioned in the context are:
- Schroder & Co Bank AG,
- Societe Generale Switzerland,
- BBVA (Suiza) SA,
- Banca Popolare di Sondrio (Suisse) SA,
- J.P. Morgan (Suisse) SA,
- Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG,
- Citibank (Switzerland) AG,
- BNPP (Suisse) SA,
- HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA,
- Rothschild & Co Bank AG.
Other foreign banks include ABANCA CORPORACION BANCARIA S.A., Betanzos, succursale de Geneve, Allfunds Bank International S.A., Luxembourg, Zurich Branch, Bank fur Tirol und Vorarlberg AG, Innsbruck, Zweigniederlassung Staad, Bank of America Europe Designated Activity Company, Dublin, Zweigniederlassung Zurich, and Bank of China Limited, succursale de Geneve.
Major Local Banks
The major local banks operating in Switzerland include:
- Aargauische Kantonalbank
- acrevis Bank AG
- AEK BANK 1826 Genossenschaft
- Alpha RHEINTAL Bank AG
- Alpian SA
- Alternative Bank Schweiz AG
- Appenzeller Kantonalbank
- Baloise Bank SoBa AG
- Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino
- Bank Avera Genossenschaft
- Bank BSU Genossenschaft
- Bank Cler AG
- Bank EEK AG
- Bank EKI Genossenschaft
- Bank Gantrisch Genossenschaft
- Bank in Zuzwil AG
- Bank Leerau Genossenschaft
- Bank Oberaargau AG
- Bank SLM AG
- Bank Thalwil Genossenschaft
- Bank von Roll AG
- UBS Group
- Credit Suisse
- Raiffeisen (Switzerland)
- Migros Bank
- Zurich Cantonal Bank
- Luzerner Kantonalbank
- Basler Kantonalbank
- Julius Baer Group
- Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV)
- Luzerner Kantonalbank AG (LUKB)
- The Pictet Group
- Bank J. Safra Sarasin Ltd
- EFG International
- St.Galler Kantonalbank (SGKB)
- Union Bancaire Privee (UPB)
- Vontobel Holding AG.
The B2C payment tools available in Switzerland include:
- Request to Pay (R2P),
- Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offerings,
- QR code billing,
- bank transfers,
- credit and debit cards (with Mastercard having the highest card market penetration),
- digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Garmin Pay,
- Worldline (Saferpay, formerly SIX),
- QR Pay,
In Switzerland, it is permitted to pay employees with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The Swiss Code of Obligations allows the employer and employee to agree on a different form of monetary remuneration, including privately issued currencies, and cryptocurrencies can be treated in the same way as foreign currencies.
However, the employer should only pay cryptocurrency wages at the request of their employees and should point out the risk of price volatility between payment and exchange. It is recommended that only a portion of the total wage be paid in cryptocurrency. Social security contributions must still be paid in Swiss francs.
The country does not have explicit regulations for using cryptocurrencies for employee payment, but these are subject to certain legal considerations, such as tax requirements. For individual tax assessment, cryptocurrencies must be converted into Swiss francs.
The Federal Tax Administration provides year-end conversion rates for certain cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are considered to have an inheritable value and are part of an individual’s wealth, subject to wealth taxes. Any activities involving cryptocurrencies may be subject to anti-money laundering regulations under the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Cryptocurrency assets and certain capital gains must be declared on tax returns and their tax treatment differs depending on whether they originated from private or business wealth. Capital gains from cryptocurrency as part of private wealth are tax-exempt, while losses from the disposal of cryptocurrency assets are not tax-deductible.
For blockchain miners, if mining is considered a self-employed activity, the cryptocurrency received constitutes self-employed taxable income. The Swiss Federal Tax Administration defines the taxation value of the most common cryptocurrencies each year, and taxpayers must refer to this value when declaring their virtual assets.
The tax treatment of asset-backed tokens and utility tokens also depends on the relationship between the investor and the issuer under civil law. There are different tax treatments in each Canton, and each Canton has the freedom to determine whether an individual’s cryptocurrency transactions should be considered self-employed activity.