French Government Softens Stance on ICOs and Cryptocurrencies

French Government supports ICOs

Surprisingly, the French government is now putting in place supportive  legislation for companies to conduct ICOs.This is a policy U-turn that many didn’t see coming.

Remember, a while back, The Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF), France’s Market regulator, made a statement notifying consumers of the blacklisting of 15 cryptocurrency companies and wallets providers.

“The investment proposals highlighting the possibility of financial returns or similar economic effects involve intermediation in miscellaneous assets and are now subject to ex ante control by the AMF. Consequently, no offer can be directly marketed in France without prior allocation by the AMF of a registration number.”

According to the regulators, these cryptocurrency websites and wallet providers were breaching the law during their marketing.

The early warning by the Governor of the Bank of France on the real risk of investing in Bitcoin was an indication of the initial policy. Unsurprisingly, the Governor called it a “speculative asset”. The Economy Minister even tasked a known Bitcoin skeptic Jean-Pierre Landau to examine cryptocurrency regulation in January.

AMF Policy U-Turn

Remarkably, the same AMF is now reportedly preparing to introduce legislation on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). According to Les Echos, this is to promote the development of this novel way of raising funds.

The Ministry for the Economy and Finance acknowledged AMF’s framework that would legitimize ICOs as a credible means of investment.

A source from the ministry said:

“Our goal is to provide legal certainty for those who seek it, without hindering those who want to follow their own path…. We work for a flexible, non-dissuasive framework. At the same time, we are not naive either… we know that these products can be risky”

Most notable is an authorization system whereby issuers of ICOs can officially get a license from the AMF. However, for licensing and approval, ICOs must provide certain guarantees to investors regarding use of funds.

The French government’s sudden announcement  is in stark contrast to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) position. The SEC is very stringent on ICOs and heavily regulates them.