France takes cryptocurrency lead - and wants the EU to follow

April 18, 2019   Bitcoin

The Paris Blockchain Week Summit has been going on and one person that has been heard loud and clear, by cryptocurrency industry participants at least, is Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire is the French Finance Minister, and his speech on Monday the 15th of April was unsurprising.

Our way is the right way

His exact words were "I will propose to my European partners that we set up a single regulatory framework on crypto-assets inspired by the French experience. Our model is the right one". This is seen by industry observers as a push for France to become the leader in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.

It is heartening to see that a Finance Minister of a G8 country is so openly supportive of both cryptocurrency and the technology that underpins it, namely blockchain. Early adopters in the cryptosphere have gotten used to regulators ignoring cryptocurrencies. No one bats an eye when they see the fear of a decentralized, private form of wealth that governments cannot control. Mild amusement is the most common reaction to regulators and ministers who want to understand the two concepts.

So when Bruno Le Maire stated that he unequivocally wanted France to be not just a leader in cryptocurrencies, but also in blockchain technology, many in the industry were hesitant. What would that mean? What did the future hold for blockchain once a country as large as France started to consider it as a key strategic technology? More to the point, if Bruno Le Maire could change his mind in such a drastic fashion, what about other regulators around the world?

The French Parliament passed a new set of laws this month that would go a long way to governing cryptocurrency in the country. The regulations they passed were mainly to do with licensing of companies that hold or trade in cryptocurrency, along with tax regulations for anyone who wanted to make a profit from any form of interaction with cryptocurrency.

The KYC/AML regulations were the most interesting. The French government does not just require companies to have stringent KYC procedures; they also want to start verifying the identities of token issuers and custodians. The tax laws will hit traders and investors differently depending on the nature of the business.

The European Commission seems to agree with Le Maire. They have called for a unified regulatory framework for the EU. Particularly with regards to the taxation aspect. This would help with the regulatory arbitrage that is currently happening within the EU. Some countries are better (or have less specific rules) and are seen as prime destinations for cryptocurrency companies.

A greater push for standardized digital laws across Europe

This all comes at a time when Margrethe Vestager, the former Economic Minister of Denmark, has called for greater cooperation on an EU wide Digital Tax law. She has become well known around the world for her harsh stance on the games that companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook play to get out of paying taxes.

A portion of the cryptocurrency industry is afraid of what she could do to cryptocurrencies if she ever turns her focus on them fully. Others are hoping that she shows the same fire in bringing cryptocurrency in line with European law, hoping that this will allow normal, non-tech related people to become a part of the ecosystem.

Author: Ali Raza for

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