France is positioning itself as a jurisdiction of preference for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Europe.
The government is in the midst of finalizing legislation, under the PACTE Law, that will regulate ICOs. While several other European countries have moved forward with specific legislation designed to encourage the issuance of digital assets, France will be the first large EU member state to create bespoke legislation that clearly defines the process to publicly offer tokenized assets.
Concurrently, the European Commission is working on a pan-European crowdfunding law that may, or may not, include ICOs in the final rules. France’s actions may help propel the EU to move quicker as its proposal may define the ecosystem in Europe. France’s actions may also help to define the management of digital assets in other jurisdictions outside the EU as well.
CI recently had the opportunity to discuss France’s strategy for crypto assets with Sebastien Raspiller, Head of the Service in charge of the financing of the Economy at the French Treasury (Directorate General of the Treasury – Ministry of the Economy and Finance).
Our conversation is shared below.
Becoming a leader in Blockchain and initial coin offerings has become a strategic goal for France. In fact, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has been quite vocal on the subject. How did he become so interested in pursuing this sector of Fintech?
Sebastien Raspiller: French authorities have been following such developments carefully over the past few years.
Blockchain provides very promising avenues for innovation, including in the financial sector, and France was one of the first countries to adapt its legislative framework in order to explicitly allow the use of blockchain.
In 2017, the challenges and opportunities raised by ICOs and crypto-assets became a more pressing issue. Given the potentially strategic nature of this question, the Minister decided to launch a mission on this topic, which was led by former deputy-Governor of the French central Bank, Jean-Pierre Landau.
In light of his report and on the basis of other works, conducted by the French Market Authority (AMF) and the Parliament, Minister Le Maire decided to adopt an innovative reglementary approach to this specific topic and to provide a robust legislative, accounting and tax framework to serious actors.
M. Le Maire believes in the need for the public authorities to carry out a proactive policy in this field, in order to ensure that Paris becomes a European leader in the field of blockchain, based on its balanced and credible approach.
Is the AMF supportive of this goal? Do they have some concerns as the lead regulator?
Sebastien Raspiller: The proposition of an optional visa for ICOs was a result of the public consultation that was led by the AMF in the fall of 2017.
The AMF has been very supportive of this ambitious approach and was closely associated during the drafting process of this law.