Chatbot Revolution in Switzerland: A New Era of Customer Engagement

New chatbot survey reveals huge potential for banks, insurers and retailers that make the first move

What sounded like sci-fi a few years ago is now a reality in many industries: chatbots. Digital programs that conduct conversations with people are triggering a revolution in customer engagement. But not yet, it seems, in the Swiss banking, insurance, retail and consumer industries.

PwC’s new survey of chatbots, conducted in partnership with the University of St. Gallen/CEMS, reveals huge opportunities for players in the banking, insurance, retail and consumer industries that use their intelligence and dare to make the first move.

Banking: a rosy future for chatbots

The survey shows that banking, in particular retail, has enormous potential for using chatbots to transform the customer experience. Customers are dissatisfied with existing ways of communicating with their bank, and a large proportion could easily imagine chatbots as a supplement to their e-banking service for routine account and credit card business. With only 30% of surveyed customers saying they prefer human contact, there’s clearly a lot of headroom. Banks themselves also see the potential, initially for simple tasks such as granting small loans, but ultimately for more complex services such as opening new accounts, trading stocks, and investment decisions.

Insurance: chatbots a dead cert

Insurers have so far failed to capitalise on chatbots. But with our survey showing that only 20% of customers want personal service, 85% already use phone or email to communicate with their insurer, and 60% willing to deal with chatbots to handle their insurance affairs, it seems like a no-brainer. Customers realise that chatbots are quick, convenient and available 24/7. Insurers themselves acknowledge that they’re a great way of reducing handling costs.

Retail and consumer: the most impressive potential of all

With only 18% of customers surveyed having a preference for personal service and 75% (both the younger and older generation) saying they favour chatbot-based channels for communicating with retailers, this is the industry with the most impressive potential of all. Another plus-point revealed by the survey is that privacy concerns are fairly low down the agenda of customers in this industry, while companies are already able to assure a relatively high level of data integrity. The stage is set for a chatbot revolution in retail and consumer!

So what are banks, insurers and retailers waiting for?

The survey suggests that making the first move is crucial. As tech companies gradually find ways of luring customers away from traditional providers in the financial services and retail industries, established players can stay competitive by moving fast on chatbots. The survey also suggests, though, that it’s not enough to copy a model from other industries, as chatbots fulfil needs that are very specific to customers in a particular market. Fortunately there are already mature chatbot technologies available for these industries. Also, chatbots perform best if they’re part of a fully integrated ecosystem, so you have to make sure your data and processes are integrated. A proper roadmap is crucial as well: chatbots work best when they’re back by a long-term strategy.

These are the key points. For more detailed insights, we invite you to check out the whole survey:


Chatbot Revolution in Switzerland


It’s a must-read for companies in the banking, insurance, retail and consumer industries that want to use chatbots to stay competitive by transforming the experience of their customers.


Holger Greif
Partner and Leader Digital Transformation
+41 58 792 1386

Dominic Olonetzky
Co-Head Consulting, PwC Digital Services
+41 58 792 2926

Otto Hieb
Senior Manager Financial Services, PwC Digital Services
+41 58 792 4743

PwC-Immospektive Q3/17

Interpretation of the FPRE real estate meta analysis Q3/17

The Swiss economy is currently benefiting from an economically strong Europe. A normalisation of the interest rate landscape is still anticipated, but at a slower pace of adjustment. The reference rate fell to a new record low of 1.5%. Falling market rents in the residential and office market increase the pressure on investments, while the situation for the retail sector remains precarious.

More information


Kurt Ritz
Partner, Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 14 49

Marie Seiler
Director, Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 56 69

Samuel Berner
Real Estate Advisory
+41 58 792 17 39

Change in VAT rates effective 1 January 2018?

For the first time in the history of Swiss value added tax, there may be a reduction in the standard and special VAT rates! Whether and to what extent a reduction will be introduced on 1 January 2018 is up to the Swiss voting population to decide on 24 September 2017 as part of the vote on the reform of Old-Age and Survivors In-surance (AHV).

Definitive consequences as at 31 December 2017

The temporary additional financing of disability insurance (IV) from VAT funds will come to an end on 31 December 2017. The three tax rates will automatically decrease as a result. However, an increase of 0.1% to finance the railway infrastructure (FABI) will also come into force on 1 January 2018. Taking both these effects into account, the tax rates as at 1 January 2018 would be as follows:

Standard rate:  7,7%
Special rate:  3,7%
Reduced rate: 2,5%

Possible consequences of the “Pensions 2020” reform programme

It is not yet known whether the standard and special tax rates will be subject to an additional increase for pension funding purposes as at 1 January 2018. If the voting population accepts the proposal put to the vote on 24 September 2017, the VAT rates will remain at their current levels.

Are you, your company and your accounting software ready for a change in tax rates?

If the voting population rejects the proposed reform of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, VAT rates will be reduced from 1 January 2018. This will leave just over three months to prepare for the changeover. The following points will need to be taken into account if the tax rates are modified:

  • Tax codes in accounting software:
    New output and input tax codes will need to be introduced (standard rate: 7.7%, special rate: 3.8%).
  • Applicable tax rate:
    The date on which a service is provided is decisive for determining whether it should be invoiced at the current or new tax rates. Services provided before the end of 2017 should be invoiced at the current tax rates. If your company issues an invoice in December 2017 for a service that will not be provided until January 2018 or later, the new tax rate should be used.
    With regard to input tax, the following principle applies: “The tax that has actually been invoiced may be deducted”, even if the tax rate shown is incorrect.
  • Invoicing forms and templates will need to be modified
  • Consequences to be taken into account in contracts, offers, etc.:
    VAT must be indicated in contracts (either by specifying the tax rate as a percentage or by including the statement “plus statutory VAT”).

Conclusion and recommendations

If the increase in tax rates is rejected in the vote on 24 September 2017, there will only be a very short period of three months until the end of the year in which to implement all the necessary changes. Steps should be taken in advance, particularly with regard to IT system migration. Automatic booking processes and information printed on invoicing forms should be checked before 1 January 2018. In general, we advise against overwriting existing tax codes with the new rates. Instead, new tax codes should be entered with a new validity period.

For more information, please contact your personal advisor at PricewaterhouseCoopers or get in touch with our VAT specialists. We look for-ward to hearing from you!

Changing the game

The new rules of Customer Experience in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’

A new era of customer experience (‘CX’) has arrived. We call it the Intelligent Experience Economy. In the Intelligent Experience Economy, the combined impact of mobility, AI and the Cloud will enable organisations to completely reimagine the relationship between brands and consumers. This goes beyond convenient and accessible experiences to interactions that are radically more valuable to the customer. This new era will be defined not only by the valuable experiences that organisations will create, but also by the speed at which these experiences will be delivered to the market.

In late 2016, PwC commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the state of global CX today and the capabilities required to reimagine and execute the customer experience of the future. In-depth surveys and interviews with 507 global C-suite executives responsible for CX strategy were conducted.

We have long talked about CX being a source of sustainable competitive advantage. CCOs already know this, with 75% telling us that CX is very important to delivering their organisation’s overall strategy. While we believe that organisations are making the right noises about customer-centricity, not many have built and embedded the underlying capabilities needed to execute their customer vision. When it comes to CX, talk is cheap – organisations need to take the next step and turn the rhetoric into experiences that customers actually value. However, with almost one third of organisations having no clear roadmap for their CX vision, the question is ‘how’?

Our report identifies five rules organisations can follow to reimagine the customer experience in the Intelligent Experience Economy.

These rules are the revolutionary action that organisations need to take if they want to be successful in this new era.

A closer examination of where organisations are today raises serious questions about their ability to reach their ambitious CX goals in the next few years. Our report found that almost 1/3 of respondents say that their organisation lacks a roadmap to their future state and that 26% say they do not have executive buy-in for their vision.

Without a clear roadmap and executive buy-in, it will be nearly impossible to create the real, transformative CX change needed to keep pace with competitors and rising customer expectations.

Read the full results here


Patrick Mäder

Alexander Schultz-Wirth

Reto Brunner

Frank Briedé
Senior Manager

FINSA and FINIA enter home stretch

Economic Affairs and Taxation Committee of the National Council (WAK-N) concludes consultations

The Economic Affairs and Taxation Committee of the National Council (WAK-N) has concluded its consultation on the Financial Services Act (FINSA) and the Financial Institutions Act (FINIA). This was communicated today in a media release. Accordingly, the bill will now be subject to consultation in the National Council in the fall session. As FINSA and FINIA have already been passed in the Council of States by the end of last year the bill now has to pass its last obstacle.

By and large the WAK-N conformed to the resolution of the Council of States in terms of content. Nevertheless, the WAK-N differed with the Council of States in certain points. With respect to the FINSA there were differences with respect to the conditions for the preparation of a prospectus, the liability for false details contained in the prospectus or the Key Information Document as well as the criminal provisions. With respect to the FINIA the WAK-N differed in particular as far as the provisions contained in the Annex are concerned. According to the resolution of the WAK-N the provision in the Banking Act (BA) contained in the Annex to FINIA should not be changed at all.

In certain points the members of the WAK-N could not reach an agreement. This concerned in particular the criminal provisions, the scope with respect to the insurance companies and the external asset managers.

The draft of the bill as resolved by the WAK-N will be available in due course.

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Günther Dobrauz
Leader Legal FS Regulatory &
Compliance Services
+41 58 792 14 97

Tina Balzli
Head Banking, Legal FS Regulatory and
Compliance Services
+41 58 792 15 54

Simon Schären
PwC Legal FS Regulatory and
Compliance Services
+41 58 792 14 63

IRS defers effective date for section 871(m) regulations

On 4 August 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of the Treasury published Notice 2017-42 which defers the effective date for portions of the regulations under Section 871(m) of the Internal Revenue Code for another year. The Notice extends the relief provisions currently in effect under Notice 2016-76, Rev. Proc. 2017-15, and the 2017 Section 871(m) regulations. The Notice provides:

  • that transactions in-scope based on their delta through the end of 2018 are limited to ‘delta one’ transactions; as a result, transactions with a delta less than 1 but greater that .8 (delta .80 transactions) will not be in scope until 1 January 2019,
  • that the simplified combination rule will continue to apply for withholding agents until 31 December 2018,
  • for the deferral of withholding on actual and deemed dividends paid to qualified derivatives dealers (QDDs) until 1 January 2019 and
  • for the extension of the good faith periods for the implementation of Section 871(m).

PwC Observation: The deferral provided by Notice 2017-42 has been anticipated by market participants who have been struggling to implement the guidance issued at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. In particular, the changes to the Qualified Intermediary (QI) Agreement applicable to QDDs have raised significant questions for issuers of financial products linked to US equities in the international financial markets.

For more information, please refer to our

PwC Tax Insights Publication


Should you have any further questions, please contact one of the following persons:

Christoph Schaerer
+41 58 792 4282

Melanie Taosuwan
+41 58 792 4249

Thomas Plank
+41 58 792 4584

OECD releases updated Transfer Pricing Guidelines, additional guidance on Country-by-Country Reporting

On July 10, 2017, the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD) released the 2017 edition of the Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations (the Guidelines).  The 2017 edition incorporates a number of revisions the OECD has made to the Guidelines as part of its base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project since their last publication in 2010.

Specifically, the 2017 edition includes revisions introduced under BEPS Actions 8-10 (Aligning Transfer Pricing Outcomes with Value Creation) and 13 (Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country (CbC) Reporting), revised guidance on safe harbors, and conforming changes to other parts of the Guidelines.

Additionally, on July 18, 2017, the OECD released additional updated guidance on the implementation of CbC reporting under BEPS Action 13 (the CbC guidance).  Action 13 is one of the four BEPS Actions that contain “minimum standards,” and CBC reporting is a recommendation that all countries in the OECD, as well as many other countries, have committed to implement or already have implemented.

What does this mean for Switzerland?

Switzerland does not maintain specific rules and regulations with respect to Transfer Pricing. However, in Circular letter No. 4 (March 19, 2004), the Swiss Federal Tax Authorities advises the Cantonal Tax Authorities to follow the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to assess Transfer Pricing aspects and to apply the arm’s length principle.

Although the Transfer Pricing documentation requirements stipulated in BEPS Action 13 (and described in detail in the new OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines) were not incorporated into Swiss Tax Law, foreign countries have already released or will release regulations to adapt the Master File / Local File approach in their local law. Swiss parent companies will be “forced” by foreign law to prepare appropriate Transfer Pricing Documentation to avoid any adverse implications (e.g. penalties).

On June 16, 2017, the Swiss parliament decided to introduce Country-by-Country regulations (CbC) into domestic law. Hence, particularly Swiss domestic companies, with consolidated revenues of at least CHF 900 million, will be required to file a CbC report for financial year 2016 (on a voluntary basis to avoid any adverse implications such as penalties in countries which have already incorporated CbC regulations into their domestic law) but latest for financial year 2018.

Companies are well advised to take into consideration the new OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to establish and defend their intercompany transactions along the new guidance and to carefully assess their Transfer Pricing compliance obligations.

Read more in our Tax Insights from Transfer Pricing

Synopsis of the most important regulatory developments in the banking and asset management industry

Status as of August 2017

The most important regulatory developments with comments to important aspects/changes and status:

  • Interdisciplinary issues
  • Banks/securities dealers
  • Fund management companies/investment funds/representatives of foreign collective investment schemes



Bruno Gmür
Technical Partner Financial Services Banking
PwC Schweiz
+41 58 792 7317

Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants

Mirela Stoia (PwC Geneva) made a presentation at a panel discussion on “Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants”, which took place on 19 July 2017 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.


On 19 July 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted a panel discussion on “Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The subject of the roundtable was how the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations might be incorporated into the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). The panel members discussed successful mainstreaming in respect of the specific challenges posed by vulnerable populations and how it might be possible to mobilise international coordination to address migration governance. Further topics were the concrete policies and programmes to prevent, address and sustainably resolve migrant vulnerability. The discussion addressed different regional (i.e. ECOWAS) and international approaches (i.e. MICIC) to migrant vulnerability, exploring how such approaches could be integrated as a part of developing and formulating the GCM. The session likewise provided an opportunity to look at the roles of various actors and their mode of engagement, taking account of the need to maximise coordination and cooperation opportunities in a way that avoids duplicating efforts and resources.

Some of this portion of the discussion centred on taking a ‘whole of government’ approach and at looking at the role of civil society in achieving greater inclusion of migrants. The participants focused on what actions they could take to change the narrative surrounding migrant populations and on empowering migrants by proactively seeking to engage with the migrant diaspora communities. Measures for reducing vulnerabilities were also discussed.

The discussion then centred on a consideration of three major areas. The first of these was what roles the different actors play in preventing and addressing migrant vulnerability; the second was how international cooperation and coordinated efforts might be strengthened in order to deal with migrant vulnerability and empower migrants; finally, the group focused on ways in which the multilateral system could foster discussions and consensus on inclusion of these issues in the GCM.

Written statement from a private-sponsor perspective


The workshop sought to define the concept of vulnerable migrants, understand what factors excarberate their vulnerabilities, and what actions can be taken to mitigate the issues faced by vulnerable migrants (e.g. racism, marginalisation of migrants and human rights abuses).  From a private-sector perspective, we tend to deal with migrants who arrive in the host country through legitimate and regular routes. Thus, this means that the levels of migrant vulnerability encountered are not the same as the level encountered by those who engage with migrants arriving into a host country as refugees, victims of trafficking, or irregular routes. However, this does not mean to say that migrants arriving to work for a private company through a work-permit operated scheme are not vulnerable. It is simply that the challenges they may face and the means to address those challenges may be slightly different. Nevertheless, it is clear that, whatever the mode of their arrival in the host country, migrants can be empowered through the same means.


Migrants coming to a host country in order to take up pre-approved employment or join family members (e.g. spouses) may have the support of their employers and families as well as financial help, but may nevertheless still face challenges resulting in their becoming vulnerable and marginalised members of our communities. Such challenges include racism and xenophobia, language barriers, cultural barriers (for example, not being familiar with the specific local work ethic, working patterns, work processes, day-to-day cultural norms and traditions of the host country, or even something as simple as queueing), administrative processes relating to registration, school, banking, comprehending the requirement to obtain certain types of insurance (e.g. medical insurance, car insurance etc.), understanding operational procedures for obtaining medical and health care services, accessing emergency services, social etiquette for example, engaging socially with work colleagues outside of work etc. and exploitation at work (being underpaid, forced to work overtime etc.).

These challenges are broadly the same as those experienced by migrants arriving via irregular migration routes. However, it is acknowledged that migrants arriving, for example, as refugees or victims of trafficking etc. are more likely to encounter these challenges, and indeed more often than not will find themselves in particularly exposed circumstances, given that they do not have the support structures comprised of their families, colleagues and employers. However, it is important to recognise that even some migrants arriving via regular migration routes may be exposed to harsh challenges, particularly if they are being exploited by unscrupulous employers or are, for example, victims of forced marriage.


Private-sector organisations/employers must ensure that they operate processes and policies providing full support and opportunity for migrants to address the challenges they face whilst empowering them to assist others in the same situation. Private-sector organisations/employers must first acknowledge the challenges that may face migrants who are either permanent hires or on international assignment. They then will need to provide a number of services and support schemes. These schemes include such aspects as pre-arrival cultural orientation sessions and full relocation support for migrants arriving in the host country, a local host country HR/Global Mobility contact point with whom migrants can raise their concerns/seek support and guidance, arrival orientation, training and guidance with regarding local customs, work processes and signposting to services such as health care, schools etc.

Organisations and employers should also schedule regular reviews over a 6-12-month period in which the host country HR/Global Mobility contact checks in with the migrant to discuss any concerns, issues, well-being and thereby obtain general feedback. Ongoing communication, training and engagement with all staff regarding diversity and discrimination policies would ensure that migrants feel welcome and host country employees understand the necessity for respect and tolerance.

Organisations and employers should also liaise with government bodies and policy makers by responding to consultations and requests for contribution to policy making to ensure that immigration rules and regulations (both existing and proposed) will not be discriminatory to migrants and will afford the same employment rights (so far as practicable) to migrants as to resident workers. Whereas immigration conditions may be imposed on migrants, it is important for the private sector to advocate for and represent the interests and its migrant workforce vis-à-vis employers so as to ensure migrants do not suffer detriment from a career perspective and any immigration policies allow migrant integration into the host country. Conversely, private-sector organisations/employers should not make recommendations to policy makers that will result in undercutting the resident labour market whilst enabling exploitation of migrant workers. Legislative and government bodies charged with immigration policy making must ensure that whilst incorporating the interests of the private sector into any immigration laws, vulnerabilities faced by migrants will not thereby be exacerbated.

Private-sector organisations/employers must also ensure that there is an educational strategy in place enabling stakeholders to recognise and support particularly vulnerable migrants

employed within the organisation, for example, refugees. Private-sector actors need to be aware of and acknowledge the different support mechanisms necessary to address the vulnerabilities of specific types of migrants, e.g. refugees or victims of trafficking. For example, additional counselling services, confidential advice and support contacts for particularly vulnerable migrants should all be made available. Further, stakeholders involved in the recruitment and retention of particularly vulnerable migrants must have the appropriate training and support available to them so that they can address the vulnerabilities of such migrants whilst enabling their empowerment.

The private sector can play a key role in helping empower migrants through: (1) their internal processes and support procedures; and (2) advocating on behalf of migrants and the value they bring to the workforce. For example, migrants may suffer xenophobia and by advocating on behalf of migrants, private-sector actors can outline the benefits of having a diverse and multicultural workforce that can compete in an increasingly globalised market whilst emphasising migrants’ contribution to the economic and industrial strategy of a host country (e.g. addressing demographic challenges/soft power and cultural and language skills). In doing so, private-sector actors with the power of their brands reassure the public and help to address negative perceptions of migrants which, in turn, can lead to empowering migrants as they will feel more included and integrated into the host community.

It is important for private-sector organisations/employers to share best practice and engage with one another regarding the mechanisms and processes that are able to address migrant vulnerabilities. Sharing best practice at local, national and international levels can lead to a consistent and efficient approach in addressing migrant vulnerabilities and empowering migrants. Private-sector engagement with policy makers at all levels is also important as reviewing practices in other jurisdictions can lead to international cooperation, international coordination of consistent policies, and also avoid duplication of efforts. 


In the last 12-24 months there has been an increased focus on engaging the private sector to take a conceptual leadership role regarding the integration and empowerment of migrants (both regular and irregular). It is crucial that this engagement continue as private-sector organisations can use the power of their brands to support integration and inclusion initiatives as they pertain to migrants. Further, private-sector organisations operate on a global level and can utilise their extensive networks and experience to share best practices and advise on not just the theoretical aspects of addressing migrant vulnerabilities but also the practical steps that can be taken to implement mechanisms empowering migrants. Inclusion of private-sector organisations in multilateral systems, roundtables and conferences is an ideal opportunity for the sharing of ideas with NGOS, government agencies and those operating on the ground.

Furthermore, the private sector can learn from those directly involved in the humanitarian and policy arenas as they relate to migrants. In these areas, private-sector actors can better focus their CSR and HR strategies not just in respect of employing migrants, but also for the benefit of talent recruitment. Specifically, if private-sector actors can better understand the push-and-pull factors which fuel migrant movement from home countries, they can look at their global expansion and business strategies to evaluate whether they can take advantage of and provide opportunities to individuals in jurisdictions which are the focus of any such strategic plans.  This understanding can potentially lead to business growth for private- sector organisations in countries of interest whilst assisting with the economic development of those countries. This understanding can in some ways thereby stem the flow of migration instigated by lack of economic opportunities.

Some impressions of the panel discussion:

Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16

Nadia Idries
PwC London
+44 (0) 7930 37 37 42


How banks are gearing up for PSD2

With around five months to go, banks don’t have much time left
to make sure they’re compliant with the EU’s revised Payment
Services Directive (PSD2). However, for many financial institutions,
PSD2 is more than just a compliance exercise. It will impact
banks’ strategic positioning and significantly change their risk
profile as they interact with third parties.

Since Switzerland is not a member of the EEA, PSD2 isn’t directly
applicable in this country. But given that Switzerland is a member
of SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area), in the future it will be
required to demonstrate that national rules similar to PSD2 are in
place. There will also be heavy pressure on Swiss banks from the
client side to open up their architecture vis-à-vis third parties.

PwC’s PSD2 team recently conducted a study across the Swiss and
European markets on banks’ readiness to tackle the new rules.
The survey ran from February to June this year, and 38 large
banks responded. The objective was to understand how much
progress regulators in each state had made in terms of transposing
PSD2 into national regulation, the state of play for banks in
relation to implementing PSD2, what opportunities banks felt
PSD2 offered them, and the impact that open data might have on
banks’ systems and infrastructures.

Results of Survey

Read more about PSD2

Get in contact with us:

Günther Dobrauz
Partner, Leader Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 14 97

Michael Taschner
Senior Manager, Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 10 87

Philipp Rosenauer
Manager, Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 18 56