Blockchain / DLT

Blockchain technology is considered as being the innovation of the decade. For the first time, it is possible to unequivocally record and trade ownership of virtual property without the need for a central authority - a development that has the potential to fundamentally change the existing payment infrastructure and the financial system. Add to this, the many possibilities of smart contracts, decentralized applications (DAPPs) and decentralized organizations (DAOs).

The CIF investigates the potential that these new technologies have and assesses the extent to which they will affect financial markets, industry, and society. In addition to its fundamental research in this field, the department will focus particularly on discussions involving politics, the public sector and private enterprise.

Research Focus

Our research focuses on the following key topics:

  • Consensus protocols
  • Applications of blockchain technology
  • Crypto assets (fungible and non-fungible)
  • Central bank cryptocurrencies

We attach great importance to comprehensive, interdisciplinary analysis. We are convinced that an economic perspective in this field is only useful if it is based on a solid comprehension of the technology.

Open Lectures

Due to the great demand, not just from our students, but also from the general public, we have decided to make the introductory Bachelor’s level course "Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptoassets" available in an open access format. The lecture videos are accessible on our YouTube channel, and on a new platform called All lecture slides and additional resources are maintained in an open-source git repository. The goal is to provide anyone who is interested in learning the fundamentals of the topic with quality content, completely free of charge.
Press Release

open lectures

Our Book: Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptoassets

The blockchain is considered to be the greatest innovation of the decade and to have the capacity to impact the world to the same degree that the advent of the Internet did.

This book contains all the information that is required to understand this fascinating technology.  

The book’s interdisciplinary perspective and its technical comprehensiveness ensure that it will be equally interesting and readable for beginners and advanced learners. This makes it indispensable reading for everyone who wishes to obtain a solid grounding in the subject.


Opinions and Reviews

This terrific book lucidly explains the key components of Bitcoin and Blockchain, including hashing, public key cryptography, and smart contracts, embedded in an excellent presentation of key concepts from monetary economics and discussion of recent challenges for cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies. If you are looking for one book on this topic, this is it.

Prof. Dr. Harald Uhlig, University of Chicago

Bitcoin made a big splash in the financial world. This accessible book is an excellent introduction to both monetary theory and crypto technology.

Prof. Dr. Markus K. Brunnermeier, Princeton University

A Short Introduction to Blockchain

This paper, which recently appeared in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, offers an ideal short introduction to the world to crypto assets and the blockchain. It provides the basic principles of blockchain, as well as discussing its potential capacities and possible applications.

The paper was written by the two CIF researchers, Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär.

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

The term decentralized finance (DeFi) refers to an alternative financial infrastructure built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. DeFi uses smart contracts to create protocols that replicate existing financial services in a more open, interoperable, and transparent way. This article highlights opportunities and potential risks of the DeFi ecosystem.


In addition to conducting fundamental research and practice-oriented projects in collaboration with companies and third-party organisations, the Center for Innovative Finance is also engaged in teaching.

In Spring 2017, the University of Basel offered a lecture series on blockchain, entitled "Bitcoin, Blockchain and Crypto Assets". The lecture was originally planned for approximately 20 attendees. Contrary to expectations, 200 students enrolled for the course. Owing to the high level of demand and the very good evaluation of the course, the lectures will be offered again. Moreover, further events for this topic are currently being devised and submitted to the University’s Curriculum Commission.