French finance minister Bruno Le Maire in a meeting with French entrepreneurs has declared that he plans to support the crypto space, according to Bitcoin.fr.
The breakfast meeting included Blockchain Partner’s co-founder and president of Chaintech, Alex Stachtchenko, to whom Le Maire committed his “total and determined support” for the cryptocurrency industry. Stachtchenko reported the finance minister’s opening comments to the meeting:
“I was a neophyte a year ago, but now I’m passionate. It took me a year. Let us show a lot of pedagogy with our fellow citizens to make France the first place of blockchain & crypto-active innovation in Europe.”
This being the case, this positioning regarding the industry marks a significant change in government thinking, which to date has been wary of cryptocurrency, although Le Maire himself has made comments recently which suggest a proactive stance in the space.
Prior to the Buenos Aires G20 summit earlier this year, the minister suggested that France should become “actors” rather than “spectators” although he clarified that the government should still be wary of speculation, security issues and criminal activities such as money laundering. In March this year, he suggested that blockchain technology would offer startups the option to “…create a network of trust without intermediaries… and offer increased traceability of transactions”, generating a climate for a more efficient French economy.
At the recent meeting, Le Maire and Stachtchenko discussed how to address current issues regarding banks, which they felt damaged competitiveness, due to denying accounts to blockchain companies. The minister agreed to take take the issue up with the French Central Bank, suggesting it was far better to do business with stable banks in France than risk investing overseas.
They further discussed taxation, where the potential of exempting crypto-crypto exchanges from taxation was suggested. Le Maire’s position was that cryptocurrency should be taxed once it was sold for fiat and transferred to a bank account. He also suggested that ICOs needed to be “professionalized” and evaluated by an independent agency, in order to create a secure environment in which the public could trade and invest.
“You have with me a total and determined support to change things,” concluded the Finance Minister, “to ensure that we take advantage of the momentum in order to remove the most obstacles to the development of the French ‘crypto’ ecosystem.”
It appears that with Le Maire in charge of finance, the French government is clearly keen to move discussions and regulation on at a pace. Both France and Germany seem to be in agreement on cryptocurrency issues, both advocating moves towards a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. German banks have made it quite clear that effective regulation of virtual currencies is an international imperative.