On 24 and 25 January, the National Assembly must examine the bill “containing various provisions for adaptation to the European Union order in the fields of the economy, health, labour, transport and ‘agriculture’, in which an amendment of the Senator Hervé Maurey proposes making the PSAN license mandatory to be able to offer crypto-assets in France from October 1, 2023. Approval issued by the AMF that no digital asset provider has yet managed to obtain.
The dossier is closely followed by sector operators, for fear of seeing the development of the French cryptocurrency industry suddenly blocked by regulations, which would anticipate the European MiCA regulation.
75 million euros of exposure
If the French crypto sector tends to feel persecuted by the legislator, there is a public actor whose support it acquires: Bpifrance. Of course, the public investment bank’s action towards the blockchain sector will likely not be included in its 2022 activity report, which will be presented on February 16, in relation to its priorities, which are support for the industry, the energy transition or other digital innovations. However, it is not negligible. Bpifrance’s direct and indirect exposure to the blockchain sector now amounts to almost €75 million.
“Our role is to enable the French ecosystem to be competitive and to create as much value as possible. There is urgency, when we know that funding has reached nearly $40 billion in the US and that ‘in France we have reached $2 billion since 2015’, explains Ivan de Lastours, Blockchain & crypto lead at Bpifrance. Of more than 90 start-ups financed in France, Bpifrance participated in 70% of the operations.
A direct investment in several start-ups
The public investment bank distributed 30 million in loans to companies in the sector in the form of grants and loans, invested 10 million directly in six start-ups (including Ledger, Acinq, Arianee and Dogami), and almost 35 million euros in several crypto funds (including that of Ledger-Cathay).
Ivan de Lastours details the importance for the investment bank of being a fund of funds: “In the US, pension funds invest in crypto funds, in France it is more family offices and high net worth individuals.”
A fund to invest in tokens?
Bpifrance is also working on an investment fund project dedicated to Web3, which could invest in tokens. For Ivan de Lastours, this is a twofold mission. “As a bank it is important for us to learn to master how these operations work; and this would be a way to support companies that raise funds in tokens, which are a new class of digital assets. financial object that is not yet very well identified.”
The project does not have a timetable defined at this stage. “The topic is delicate because we are in a complicated phase, with actors with fraudulent behavior who have discredited cryptocurrencies”. According to him, the industry has not yet reached the end of the domino effects of the FTX scandal. Of which Senator Maurey’s famous amendment is just a knock-on effect.
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