Xapo, a provider of secure bitcoin wallet and vault storage solutions deemed “the Fort Knox of bitcoin,” announced that it is relocating its corporate headquarters to Zurich, Switzerland. The company will retain a small presence in its previous home base in Palo Alto, California to serve U.S. customers, but its main operations will move to the new home base.
Xapo’s primary deep cold storage vault is already located in Switzerland (the precise location hasn’t been disclosed), with additional secure sites deployed around the globe.
“[A]t the request of our expanding global customer base, now is the time to bring our center of operations closer to the heart of our security infrastructure,” the announcement reads. “The country’s regulatory stability, international neutrality and its deep-seated tradition in global finance also factored into the decision.”
Xapo’s deep cold storage servers are housed in radio wave-blocking Faraday cages and secured behind military-grade security controls deep within reinforced underground bunkers. All vaults utilize multi-signature transaction authorization, and withdrawals must be signed by at least three of five deep cold storage sites around the world. For extra physical security, Xapo has partnered with satellite surveillance service provider Satellogic.
In August 2014, Xapo became the first Bitcoin services company to complete a Service Organization Control 2 (SOC2) Type I audit, a widely recognized auditing standard against which service providers are able to report and validate their internal security controls. Customers’ funds are covered by two separate insurance policies against cyber-theft, hacking attacks, physical break-ins and employee dishonesty.
That shows how Xapo wants to take all measures to protect its current and future customers’ funds from all risks and threats.
“[O]ur fiduciaries are protected by our vault, which uses private keys that never touch the client or the Internet and are buried deep within geographically dispersed, heavily guarded locations with multi-signature technology for transaction signing,” notes the announcement. “We have customized security protocols to reduce the likelihood of theft through social engineering, phishing or brute force hacks, and offer full insurance in the unlikely event that these systems are compromised.”
Though not explicitly stated in the announcement, it seems evident that Xapo needs to protect its key customers from the possibility that the political climate in the United States might become unfriendly to crypto-currencies, and therefore decided to move to a country with strong privacy and banking secrecy traditions. The linked page “Why Switzerland?” is more explicit:
“Switzerland has a long tradition of protecting both personal and financial privacy. The fundamental right to personal privacy is established as part of Article 13 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, and the protection of personal financial information is still maintained today by the provisions of the Swiss Banking Law of 1934.”
The page also notes that the Swiss spirit of independence endures, with Switzerland remaining apart from the European Union, and deciding participation in any non-governmental organization by popular referendum. The country protects its multiple borders, and national sovereignty, with an active military force of professional soldiers and civilian reservists.
“This is not to facilitate crime, this is to protect privacy,” Xapo CEO Wences Casares toldCoinDesk. “There are some customers that will bring more balances if we do this and there are some customers who have said we will work with you if you do this.”