Cryptocurrencies,  Ethereum,  Technology

PwC Switzerland scoops up ChainSecurity

Smart contracts are a key part of blockchain. Making sure they perform as intended is vital to the technology’s adoption.

Smart contract auditing firm ChainSecurity has joined the Swiss arm of auditing and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

While PwC Switzerland did not acquire the Swiss company, ChainSecurity’s team has joined PwC’s smart contract and blockchain project audit division, the firm said in a press release. The goal is to strengthen its. smart contract assurance business.

As part of PwC Switzerland, the ChainSecurity researchers will focus on accelerating the firm’s blockchain audits, “including technical audits of smart contracts and blockchain platforms and risk assurance services for clients holding crypto investments,” Andreas Eschbach, partner and head of risk insurance for PwC Switzerland and Europe, said in the statement.  

Understanding smart contracts

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement written into lines of code. Once the case is uploaded on a blockchain, it cannot be changed. That is why an error or flaw in a smart contract can lead to major problems and even severe financial loss. 

That’s where ChainSecurity comes in. Through its audit platform, the startup checks for errors in the code and certifies the functional correctness of smart contracts to help ensure they work as intended. That’s particularly important in the banking and finance industries, which are leading the corporate charge into blockchain but need to be sure everything works as promised.

ChainSecurity’s profile was raised substantially in January 2019, when the company spotted a serious loophole in Ethereum’s long-awaited Constantinople hard fork, a major update to the second-largest cryptocurrency’s blockchain. The flawed code would have allowed bad actors to withdraw funds repeatedly without alerting the other party in a smart contract.

Swiss blockchain leadership

Established in October 2017 by ETH Zurich Professor Martin Vechev and doctoral students Hubert Ritzdorf and Petar Tsankov, ChainSecurity develops automated scanning programs for auditing smart contracts. It boasts 75 clients, including stablecoin projects, decentralized exchanges, and banks. The company said it has so far secured over $1 billion in assets. 

Spun out of ETH Zurich’s university ICE center blockchain lab, the startup consists of a small team of PhDs and graduates with expertise in security, program analysis, and machine learning.

The company has had a big presence in Switzerland, as an important part of the Crypto Valley Association and Swiss Blockchain https://blockchainfederation.chFederation. 

PwC actually pitched the deal as a way to strengthen the country’s “international leadership as a centre of blockchain,” the firm said.

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Amy Castor has more than 20 years' experience in journalism. Her work on crypto and blockchain has appeared in consumer and trade publications throughout the U.S., including CoinDesk, Forbes, Bitcoin Magazine, and The Block.