Vive la Blockchain: Why the French Government is Embracing Blockchain and Implementing Regulation

Nighttime photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Credit: Adobe Images

While Asia has been taking the lead with hosting high-quality blockchain events, European countries have been driving forward regulation and innovation, with France becoming the front runner in its bid to establish itself as a ‘Blockchain Nation,’ writes Corentin Denoeud, CEO and Co-founder of Blockchain Studio.

Europe has long been touted as a global blockchain leader, and in the context of its support of blockchain development, particularly notable through its establishment of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum and the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA), among others, it is perhaps unsurprising that European countries have been speedy actors in the space. 

One country leading the charge for blockchain adoption in Europe and the world is France; a country that has openly stated its support of blockchain and cryptocurrencies since 2016. France’s recent decisions, including its call for identification requirements and increased regulations concerning digital assets earlier this year, show the country is beginning to differentiate itself from its fellow large jurisdictions, showing it to be nimbler than neighboring countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, or Italy.

With regulation struggling to keep ahead and adapt to change, how can governments, including regulatory-friendly governments like France, stay ahead of the curve and support emerging tech to drive new business models?

‘A startup nation’

French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambition to make France a startup nation is accurately reflected in his support of innovation and entrepreneurship which has had a ripple effect across industries, including emerging technology. He has expressed an open attitude towards blockchain and cryptocurrencies since serving as Minister of Economy and Finance in 2016, and it is this attitude that has allowed the country’s tech and startup scene to flourish, particularly in the area of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs). The reality, however, is that while the country’s startup scene has grown steadily, without specific regulations and guidelines in place, it is difficult for emerging sectors to develop at the same speed as they do in other countries. 

While France has held its own, other European countries such as Switzerland, Malta, and Liechtenstein have, in many ways, had the first mover’s advantage, encouraging the development of blockchain and the establishment of DLT businesses in their jurisdictions. As smaller nations, the implementation of positive regulation can be simpler and speedier, as can the establishment of structures to ensure the legality of activities in the space. In discussions surrounding the development of new industries, it is easy to overlook how long it can take to bring together a pool of talented people; educational efforts by governments and key players in the space are crucial for a jurisdiction to advance in a nascent industry like this.

Making its mark on the blockchain scene

In April of this year, France was catapulted onto the world stage as the capital played host to Paris Blockchain Week. That same month, the country passed the PACTE law which defines regulation around digital assets, joining a number of European countries who have also implemented regulation around digital assets.

This is just a number of stepping stones France has taken recently, showcasing its move towards a more central role in the European blockchain narrative. The creation of the French Digital Asset Association (FD2A) in May 2019, the announcement of the Financial Markets Authority’s experimental regulatory framework in July 2019, and the creation of a G7 cryptocurrency task force, reinforced the French government’s active approach to creating a strong ecosystem. France has not been alone in its movement; the European Union’s approach to the blockchain  space — including the allocation of more than €300 million in blockchain investment over the coming 3 years — sets a strong precedent for jurisdictions across the union, encouraging experimentation and research into the potential impacts and benefits of DLT. 

The effect of such decisions by the French government is clearly visible on an enterprise level, with many moving towards implementing blockchain within their businesses. The increased regulatory clarity that has been provided since the beginning of the year has also played its part in encouraging future growth. 

Whilst ‘blockchain hubs’ have been cropping up across the continent, as one of the largest European countries France’s decision-making will have an impact not only on its own technology sector, but also on its counterparts. And while France plays catch up with its more agile, smaller neighbors, it still sets a precedent for other large European countries, all the while strengthening Europe’s place in the global blockchain ecosystem. 

Such a quick succession of actions by the French government in the first half of 2019 shows that though this is a country steeped in tradition, it is certainly taking a strong stance in terms of emerging technologies – and leading the way for other large European jurisdictions.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.