French finance minister Bruno Le Maire recently spoke at the Paris Blockchain conference on April 15, where he delivered what is said to be the most powerful speech given by any senior official on blockchain technology.
Following Le Maire’s speech, he was interviewed by Capital, a French business magazine which was later translated by TrustNodes, a blockchain technology media site.
Per the interview, Le Maire expanded on his speech, highlighting key aspects of the government’s ambitious 4.5 billion euro blockchain investment strategy, new regulatory and taxation frameworks, prized blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, and so much more.
France’s Ambitious Blockchain Strategy
According to France’s finance minister, the development of the blockchain ecosystem is a priority for the government as they recognize the potential this innovative technology has to contribute to the modernization of France’s businesses and economy.
The government will invest 4.5 billion euros in breakthrough blockchain technology innovations over the next 5 years. Their goal is to become a global leader in blockchain as they compete against Chinese and US technological giants.
Moreover, the funding has already started in the form of calls for projects. As stated by Le Maire, France has launched the “Innovation – Growth Competition” this spring, which will support projects primarily in the blockchain industry.
In addition to blockchain investment, the French government will begin implementing blockchain technology into all sectors of the economy by the end of the year. As put by Le Maire, the key areas the government will be focusing on are:
“[The deployment of blockchain] in French industrial sectors, fund innovative blockchain projects, and assist projects that may have any questions, in particular in the legal and regulatory aspect.”
France Reduces Crypto Taxation and Establishes Regulation
France recently passed the Pact Act in early April 2019 to establish a legal framework for token issuers and to promote the development of blockchain in the French economy.
Now, token issuers may apply for a license or an approval from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, which will put projects on their whitelist. Obtaining a license or approval will enhance a project’s trust and transparency, but projects are not required to apply.
In the past, innovative startups faced real difficulties with commercial banks, but now projects green-lighted by the AMF will gain access to bank accounts far more easily.
Furthermore, Le Maire noted that the Finance Act for 2019 simplified and reduced taxation for the sale of crypto assets for retail investors, stating:
“We have eliminated the principle of a monthly declaration in favor of an annual declaration, lowered the capital gains tax rate from 36.2% to 30% and provided for an exemption from crypto-crypto transactions.”
However, regarding taxation for professional or institutional investors, Le Maire said:
“The purchase-resale of crypto-assets carried out in a professional capacity is taxed under common law conditions.”
Leading Blockchain Projects in France and Le Maire’s Thoughts on Bitcoin (BTC)
When asked which French blockchain projects Le Maire favors, he said that France has some great ones across the entire value chain, from new service companies to hardware and protocols.
He then listed off a few French blockchain projects he sees as promising, namely Tezos (XTZ), Liquidshare, Iznes, and Ledger:
“I am thinking in particular of Tezos, which allows the development of a blockchain protocol overcoming the known defects of public blockchains. I am thinking of Liquidshare, which seeks to improve SMEs access to capital markets. I am also thinking of Iznes for the distribution of fund shares via blockchain or of course Ledger, which has everything to quickly become our first French unicorn blockchain company.”
As for Bitcoin (BTC), Le Maire appears to have an indifferent stance on the #1 cryptocurrency, stating that it has demonstrated extreme volatility and is an example of how uncertain crypto investments can be. He adds:
“Bitcoin obviously embodies the promises, the fantasies, but also the uncertainties of the blockchain.”
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