French finance minister Bruno Le Maire recently described cryptocurrency as a “revolution”; income tax on crypto has been axed by the French government, and former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now IMF head, described future international digital currency regulation as “inevitable”.
Lagarde even expressed interest in the creation of an IMF cryptocurrency last year, after comments she made about the benefits of weaker economies having their own digital currencies.
With such apparent Gallic positivity, where then, is France at this moment in time in its journey down the blockchain and crypto trail, and what lies ahead in the future?
A recent report in Coin Telegraph suggests that France is in a good position for more leadership in the crypto industry, providing that clarification of current rules is established and new legislation is brought to bear.
According to Jonathan Klein, president at Tresorio, a French-based blockchain mining and trading company, Emmanuel Macron was ahead of his peers launching discussions within France with other members of the crypto community even before his election as president. In 2017, Macron, as minister of the economy, passed a bill authorizing what could become a blockchain mini market. Klein also suggests that as a former banker and technophile, Macron could be at the forefront of driving cryptocurrency in France.
Likewise, Le Maire’s comments in Buenos Aires earlier this year, saying that “France will not miss the blockchain revolution” indicates that there is genuine interest at the highest level to continue to develop and regulate the space to promote, rather than curb, the new technology.
Clearly, the French government has not been static on the subject of regulation. In recent months a decree was published by the government related to the possibility of transferring financial securities through a blockchain. A government cryptocurrency working group was formed and new tax guidelines governing cryptocurrency were formulated.
ICOs have also been under the microscope. William O’Rorke, legal advisor at Blockchain Partner, explains:
“France is about to introduce a completely novel framework for ICOs: a voluntary visa system that incorporates much of the ‘best practices’ advocated for by the French crypto-industry. ICOs that comply with these best practices will thus be able to apply for official approval by the regulator.”
He continues, “As of today, simple things like opening a bank account can prove difficult for crypto-projects.” O’Rorke argues that the visa system will enable ICOs to interact simply with institutions such as banks who elsewhere might be overprotective to towards the client in case of cryptocurrency transactions, such as in the US.
France has recently been described as one of the most forward-looking governments in Europe. The French government’s latest announcement, to lower the tax rate for gains generated by cryptocurrencies, seems to indicate that France has set its path towards adapting to what lies ahead in the coming years, as it moves towards finding the right regulatory processes for the country’s crypto future.