Writing Smart Contracts


USI Winter School: Writing Smart Contracts (WSC)
Blockchain technology enables the automation of business and finance transactions in an efficient, flexible and trustworthy manner. New and specific skills are needed to fuel this digital revolution. Smart contracts require a distinct way of thinking and a novel programming approach, different from standard procedural programming. 
This course introduces students to the relevant theoretical concepts and provides a hands-on introduction to writing smart contracts on a modern blockchain using the Python programming language. The goal is to equip students with the necessary skills and theoretical background for creating simple smart contracts and for deploying them on the Algorand blockchain.

The second edition of the USI Winter School: Writing Smart Contracts (WSC) will take place from February 13 to 17, 2023.

Course Objectives
After completing the USI WSC winter school, participants will be able to interact programmatically with the Algorand blockchain, extracting information and executing transactions. They will have learnt how to create their own tokens and NFTs as well as how to express simple governance structures, business processes and financial assets as smart contracts. They will be able to implement these smart contracts in Python and to deploy them on the Algorand blockchain. They will understand the differences between functional and contract-oriented programming, as well as the risks specific to smart contract programming. Beyond the technical skills, they will have learnt how to plan and organize individual and group work on smart contracts. While the practical exercises focus on the Algorand blockchain, teaching will emphasize general concepts to facilitate a transfer the skills to other blockchains.

Target Group and Prerequisites
The course is aimed at master or advanced bachelor students in economics or finance as well as practitioners and PhD students. Participants should have at least basic programming skills in Python and a keen interest in the topic. (Students with little Python experience can alternatively complete online tutorials before the begin of the winter school.) No experience with the blockchain is required. While many examples will be from finance and economics, the course is sufficiently general for students from other fields to profit from it. 

Peter Gruber has PhDs in financial economics and particle physics. He is Senior Lecturer at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Lugano. He has been teaching programming to economics and finance students at USI, St. Gallen, Geneva and Bocconi since 2005. Before this, he was part of the neutrino physics efforts at CERN. His current research interests are asset pricing, blockchain economics, data visualization and data science with non-traditional data sets. 

Guest instructors
Bear Matthews
is the co-founder and COO of Vylto — a venture-funded startup building Web3 fan infrastructure. Over the past five years, he has developed products for over a million users that amplify voices, increase efficiency and promote equality.

Lars Schlichting is a partner at Kellerhals Carrard, a leading Swiss business law firm. He is an expert in regulatory matters, taxation and new technologies—Blockchain in particular. Lars and his team help financial firms face the difficult challenge introduced by the digital revolution. His areas of expertise include managing Token Offerings, using cryptocurrencies and tokens in business operations, introducing processes for online customer identification, and requesting authorizations for FinTech companies. 

Course assistants
Mattia Biancaterra is a student in the second year of the Master in Digital Finance. He has worked with the blockchain for several years and is experienced in helping his colleagues understand digital technologies.

Leonardo Zambaiti is an alumnus of the USI Bachelor in Business Administration and Management. He currently works at USI on a database covering fundamental data of crypto tokens.

Karin Trovò is a student in the USI Bachelor in Economics. She is vice-president of the Student Blockchain association has has several year of experience in the NFT space.

Grading and Accreditation
Grading is based on an individual project. Students have six weeks after the end of the winter school for completing the project.

The course can be credited at USI as an elective course with 3 ECTS for the Bachelor in Economics as well as for the Master in Finance, the Master in Financial Technology, the Master in Management and Informatics as well as and the Master in Economics. For other universities, crediting must be ensured by the participant. The number of teaching hours (28) and course work are commensurate with 3 ECTS.


  • Students (with proof of status) CHF 290
  • Practitioners CHF 990
  • Special price for USI students CHF 190

Maximum number of participants 50

Cancellation policy: Should a participant withdraw before one month from the starting date of the Winter School, no payment will be required (or payment will be reimbursed). After this time, full payment of all fees and tuition is required, but the participant may name a substitute. If a physical presence is not possible (eg because of visa, COVID, etc),  remote participation is ensured.

Follow the link below to register for the Winter School. If your registration is accepted and if there are still places, you will receive a confirmation email with a payment link. Payment is possible by credit card only. Please pay within 15 days.

For questions, send a mail to the course assistant [email protected].

Stay informed
The 2024 edition of Writing Smart Contracts is planned for Feb 12 to Feb 16 2024. Currently, we invite you to pre-register for the next WSC school. Once the official date is announced, you will receive an exclusive invitation to register before everyone else can do so.


Public Event: “How to start a Blockchain Business"
A part of the WSC winter school there will be a public event in collaboration with the USI startup center on “How to start a Blockchain Business”. The event takes place on Wed., Feb 15 at 17:30 in the USI startup center, lecture hall C 2.09 (east campus). Guest speakers are Benedetto Biondi (co-founder of Folks Finance), Andrej Majcen (co-founder of Bitcoinsuisse) and Bear Matthews (co-founder of Vylto).

The event is open to the public and articipation free of charge. Please register to help with the planning.