Category Archives: France

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Hungary Working on Crypto Regulatory Framework

Hungary is reported to working on a framework to regulate cryptocurrency trading through a joint workgroup set up for this purpose.

The county is currently far from being a crypto haven with steep taxation and a lack of recognition by the country’s ministry of finance and banking system. Despite this stance, the country, like a few others, dabbled with a state cryptocurrency in February due for its Swiss ICO back in March.

The blockchain-based cryptocurrency, the Korona, introduced by the Korona development team and led by Jean-Marc Stiegemeier, a former Wall Street financial adviser, seems to have disappeared from the media as a whole. It appears that this new state crypto didn’t quite make the 26 March deadline due the ICO raising insufficient funds.  The most recent position regarding crypto in Hungary is clarified by this recent ministry statement:

“Hungary is currently looking into regulating crypto instruments, and the central bank, the tax authority, the finance ministry and other authorities have set up a joint workgroup to evaluate legal, economic, law enforcement, money laundering and other aspects of cryptocurrencies with an eye to introducing more detailed regulation.”

Taxation of cryptocurrency in Hungary at 15% is in line with many other countries such as France, who recently revised its rates, with a reduced rate if trading is carried out as part of a business venture, in which case it drops to 9% as corporate income tax.

Hungary has rigid tax laws and because of this nationals latch on to various schemes to get around taxation requirements such as investment schemes which reportedly also carry tax burdens and legal risks. As regards cryptocurrency, there is no tax on gifts or loans so working these into cryptocurrency transactions is reportedly an option for investors.

INLOCK describes itself as a protocol enabling cryptocurrency holders to use their digital assets as collateral for a fiat loan in a safe and regulated environment. Company CEO Csaba Csabai, explains:

“According to current law in Hungary, as a consequence of selling or exchanging cryptocurrencies is considered a taxable event… However, using these digital assets as collateral for a loan to finance a temporary liquidity problem is not. The platform we are building is working towards this concept enabling cryptocurrency holders to access the purchasing power of their holdings without being punished by the extremely high tax rates.”

It remains to be seen if the new workgroup is able to smooth the way for investors and traders in the months to come.

 

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Sharp Spike in French Blockchain Growth Demonstrates Macron Vision

There has been a sharp spike in startups using blockchain technology innovations in France, and much of this is down to the new French president.

France struggled through the period under President Francois Hollande’s tenure with his popularity rating hitting as low as 4%. President Macron appears to be breathing much needed new energy into the French economy as he takes on the old protectionist guard hanging on to out-moded work practices and attacks the 36-hr working week, although his stance has ruffled feathers in the processes.

Even back in 2016, at the height of Hollande’s dismal reign as President, Macron, then Minister of the Economy, began to make positive sounds towards oncoming legislation for blockchain start-ups. He said then:

“We are going to take advantage of the Financial Regulation Ordinance, which is responsible for updating cash certificates and creating mini-cash, to experiment on the blockchain.”

A significant factor in his approach to the economy has been the way in which the new French government has addressed new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The new approach is already factoring in these technologies as an inevitable factor of French life.

Not only this but under Macron, France want to become a fintech trendsetter. The French government says that is currently preparing to legislate for ICOs, and recently, as reported by Bitcoin News, heavily reduced cryptocurrency tax rates. Also this month, Europe’s leading blockchain startup accelerator, Chain Accelerator launched in Paris.

Anji Ismail, CEO of Varanida, thinks this change of direction means that the French are beginning to subscribe to the American ideal of risk-taking rather than worrying about failing in business. If this is true, then it comes very much from the top with Macron exuding a confidence seldom seen at the heart of the French government in recent times. The risk of failure has caused many a French entrepreneur to balk at the final hurdle, Ismail suggests, an emotion little felt by their American counterparts when it comes down to business. To fail in American business is to learn.

The French government, according to Ismaol, given the right set of circumstances would see unlisted securities on the Paris Bourse. The Cabinet has already passed legislation that allows the transfer of ownership of certain financial securities using blockchain storage as a DLT.

France’s forward-thinking position was made clear recently when the French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire gave blockchain his official green light. He said:

“The use of this technology will allow fintech and other financial players to offer new solutions for securities trading – faster, cheaper, more transparent and more secure solutions.”

Perhaps less fear and more energy is the new French approach to business. Time will tell.

 

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French Regulators May Be Taking Next Step Towards Easing the Path for ICOs

The French government seems to be moving towards regulating ICOs in 2018, according to a recent Autorité des Marchés Financier (AMF) annual report, writes CoinGape.

According to AMF’s report,  ICOs are most definitely on the agenda for further regulatory framework as Robert Ophèle, President of the AMF indicated recently, suggesting that the government body will:

“…continue to reflect on changes in the regulatory framework in the face of new offers, in particular, the Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and to promote at European level the French regulator’s approach to innovation.”

The AMF last published an update in February of this year with its analysis of the legal qualification of cryptocurrency derivatives, as well as ICO guidance resulting from a public consultation of the relevant actors on the French market, according to law firm Kramer Levin.

The AMF has now launched a program of research called UNICORN (Universal Node to ICO’s Research & Network) in order to give greater clarity to those involved and to better protect potential investors. The government body has also suggested that more academic research is necessary, although it has rather followed the direction of many governments globally of promoting awareness campaigns to point out the risks of Bitcoin to “unsuspecting” potential investors.

On a positive note, it appears that the AMF has accepted that ICOs may have a productive place within France’s financial structure in the not too distant future. Ophèle said:

“In parallel, considering that certain forms of ICO could in the future constitute an alternative mode of financing for a segment of the economy in connection with blockchain technology, the AMF has launched a program of support and research of ICOs.”

The French press is far more upbeat on the question of coin offerings, recently suggesting that France should become ‘la Capitale des ICO’. The recent AMF suggestions require that best practices should be clear and complied with, also that they could extend the scope of current regulations which treat ICOs as public offerings of securities. Another suggestion is to issue an ICO license based on the regulatory model.

In response to these suggestions, the AMF received 82 responses, most of which chose for the new regulation to be optional, with a specifically tailored framework.

 

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French Regulator Cracks Down on Unauthorized Crypto Platforms

The French independent financial regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), has issued a warning to the public that unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country are illegal.

AMF is the stock market regulator in France, an independent public body that is responsible for safeguarding investments in financial instruments and in all other savings and investment as well as maintaining orderly financial markets.

According to it, several companies operating without authorization and it has published a list of four transgressors of France’’ current cryptocurrency regulations. Due to recent transparency laws, no investment offer can be marketed in France without approval from the agency.

The websites: bitoraxe.com, solutioncrypto.com, solution-crypto.com, and connect-coin.fr are just four out of 15 that have been recently identified as illegal under French law. Connect-coin.fr has since stopped trading online. Some other websites identified by the AMF, whose role is not just limited to monitoring cryptocurrencies, included one for forex products, one for binary options, and one for other goods including diamonds, wines, and cryptocurrencies.

The AMF as a stock market regulator also handles customer complaints from companies and individuals regarding investment. Recently, it has been increasingly focusing on cryptocurrency issues as digital currency becomes more widely adopted across the country. During the agency’s recent annual report, chairman Robert Ophele commented:

“During the first four months of the year, out of the more than 4,000 requests processed by our Epargne Info-services center, 700 concerned crypto-assets with nearly 250 claims or reports reporting more than EUR 9 million (USD 10.43 million) in losses.”

He added that this is now the most pressing problem that the agency deals with.

France doesn’t expect its legal framework for ICOs to be completed until 2019 and following Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau’s recent comments that new laws are required to cover cryptocurrency exchanges, France is planning to make changes to the current financial law in order to incorporate new technologies, starting with new tax laws governing cryptocurrency announced recently.

 

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Ex SWIFT CEO, Ledger President, Among Mentors of New Blockchain Incubator in Paris

A first of its kind program named ChainAccelerator has been launched in Paris, France at Station F. The program’s goal is to nurture blockchain startups, and it has 29 mentors from across the blockchain and finance industries as well as partnerships with 13 companies.

Some notable mentors include Leonard Schrank, former CEO of major international transaction settlement protocol SWIFT, Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Pascal Gauthier, president of Ledger cryptocurrency wallets, Diana Bigga from HSBC bank, and Jonathan Benassaya, co-founder of Deeezer.

Blockchain-based companies had been popping up across the different programs at Station F, so it felt the need to dedicate an entire program to blockchain startups. Station F brands itself as the world’s biggest startup campus with an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem under one roof and has 26 different startup programs. Under one program, dedicated entrepreneurs who are trying to get out of poverty can study at Station F for free.

ChainAccelerator will offer workshops on smart contracts, cryptographic security, cryptocurrency markets, and initial coin offering (ICO) legislation. It also offers its own token protocol so startups can create their own cryptocurrencies, in addition to support to facilitate ICOs. ChainAccelerator will actively matchmake blockchain startups with corporations, and will also link startups with investors. Additionally, legal, financial, business development, and marketing support will be provided.

Essentially, blockchain startups will be given all the tools and connections they need to become full-fledged companies in the ChainAccelerator program. Station F could become a major breeding ground for blockchain technology since there will be so much collaboration and experimentation between blockchain experts going on in one spot.

In general, France has a very positive view towards cryptocurrency, so it is perhaps not surprising that the first physical ‘Blockchain University’ has sprung up in Paris. The French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, warned that France “should not miss out on the blockchain revolution”. Paris National Assembly member Pierre Person says France “must become a leader in blockchain”.

 

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Russians Race to Pay Crypto Taxes Before Government Legislation

It has been reported that Russian taxpayers are now declaring their crypto earnings prior to Duma legislation being passed in the country.

Many European countries are currently tackling their tax laws in the light of the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies and a rapid rise in digital currency adoption.

France is a case in point. French daily Le Monde noted earlier this year that the crypto tax rate would be lowered after citizens appealed to France’s highest regulatory body to change the regulations for crypto transactions that had been in place since July 2014. The Conseil d’Etat set the new crypto tax rate at 19%, dropping it from a huge 45%; reportedly the move was specifically aimed at Bitcoin.

Poland also changed its original position on cryptocurrencies in that country, as part of a thorough analysis of the crypto space, announcing that it would be temporarily suspending tax collection for digital currencies, in view of tax legislation not being in place. Again, as in France, public demand was a driver behind the government changing its tax policy.

In Russia, the tax situation is very much in limbo while the Duma comes to a decision as how to deal with cryptocurrency earnings. Results from this year’s tax campaign show that investors appear to have taken the matter into their own hands, prior to any government action, declaring their cryptocurrency in their April tax returns. Income tax in the country currently stands at only 13%.

The situation in light of the current status quo, without specific legislation, requires Russian citizens to adhere to current tax laws. The tax base for earnings in cryptocurrency payable in Russian currency, the ruble, is aimed primarily at an accrued profit; the excess amount of the total received from the sale of cryptocurrency over the buying price.

New laws will also come into effect next year which will address those engaged in crypto-related activities, including mining and trading, which also extends to both owners and clients of cryptocurrency platforms. These laws have been implemented due to a huge 12% of the population earning a living as their main source of income through cryptocurrency activities.

 

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Cryptocurrency Job Market Explodes With Almost 6 Million Using Crypto Wallets

Recent news source figures show a rapid growth in the cryptocurrency employment market. With more than 1,500 tradeable cryptocurrencies and a $320 billion-plus market cap across the space, job opportunities are increasing. Major online employment site, Indeed.com, recorded an increase of 207 percent in blockchain job listings between 2016 and 2017 — a period of just 12 months. The rising blockchain job requirements and the fact that there are now over 5.8 million cryptocurrency wallet users showcases an increased crypto-adoption among masses.

The US has become a driver for boosting the crypto employment space, particularly in California which now employs nearly 30 percent of the country’s crypto employees, another 15 percent of jobs in the US are reported to be in remote locations.

Within the field, there are many opportunities from stack developers, tech writers, content marketers, business developers, and community managers, most positions to be found in the USA which currently posts 78% of the world’s non-remote crypto job opportunities, followed by the UK with 7%.

In the US, a full stack developer is likely to earn a base salary in the region of $90K, and slightly less for blockchain developers and engineers, depending on field experience. About 10% of companies offer salaries paid in cryptocurrency, although many now offer a percentage ratio system in both fiat and crypto.

In India, with 10% of the world’s Bitcoin wallets job growths has grown exponentially as reported by Indeed India.

“In the six months to November 2017, the number of cryptocurrency and blockchain jobs posted on the Indeed website rose by 290 percent. In the same period, job searches with keywords related to cryptocurrency/blockchain also rose by 52 percent.”

IBM’s pursuit of 1,800 blockchain jobs in France is a signal of intent to expand research and development in several areas with that company, primarily focusing on blockchain technology, AI, and IoT. Multinationals are increasingly embracing the new technology, opening up numerous new job opportunities in the crypto space.

AngelList, a popular website used by startups to offer vacancies to job seekers, recently recorded doubling their crypto-related job postings in a little over three months, according to its weekly newsletter. At the time Bitcoin was trading just over $19000 per coin with 50 jobs available which rose to 100 when Bitcoin slumped and traded at $7,000, according to CryptoGlobe.

AngleList commented, “startups aren’t watching the markets.”

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Trump’s New Trade Tariffs Could Kick Start Bitcoin

As US president Donald Trump shocks the world with his surprise steel and aluminum tariffs targeted at Canadian, Mexican and EU markets, Bitcoin markets could be the beneficiary, according to Forbes..

The response from Canada, the UK, France, and Mexico has been one of surprise and total indignation, pointing to the possibility of a trade crisis between the nations involved. These apparently punitive and protectionist measures could provide the much-awaited positive swing for Bitcoin, as it could become an ideal hedge opportunity as a result, providing that President Trump‘s latest measures aren’t rescinded due to a global response against the US.

Traders are now bracing themselves against the possibility of market volatility which will work very much in Bitcoin’s favor, as investors look for fundamentals to support the price of Bitcoin and positive indicators and motivators for change.

The recent Consensus 2018 event in New York was seen by some as the kind of shot in the arm needed to reinject enthusiasm in the sluggish Bitcoin market, but it proved to lack any real energy as a contributing driver to market despite offering headlines about Lamborghinis to news sources.

The last two months have seen numerous positive comments from central banks regarding some kind of CBDC. On both sides of the English Channel, politicians have waxed lyrical about cryptocurrency with even Canadian Bank of England Governor Mark Carney manufacturing a dramatic turnaround after his earlier view that Bitcoin had “failed”.

China with a cryptocurrency ban in place has now begun to take blockchain technology seriously, led by recent comments by Chinese president Xi Jinping, who now promotes the benefits of the new technology. Chinese investors welcome this, and reports indicate that it’s a question of time before the Bank of China follows suit. If the People’s Bank of China takes that route, it may impact on the way that Bitcoin and other currencies are regarded by the government, blockchain being the underlying technology behind digital currencies.

Cryptocurrency investors will be watching the development of what is already becoming a trade war between the US and its former trading partners with great interest, hoping that it could become another important factor in reinjecting energy into the Bitcoin market.

 

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IBM to Bring 1,800 Blockchain Jobs to France

International Business Machines (IBM) recently announced initiatives and investments which will create 1,800 jobs in France.

News of IBM’s intentions broke after the Tech for Good summit in Paris hosted by the president of France. Over 50 tech CEOs were present, including Mark Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella, and Biran Krzanich.

The openings require “new collar” skills, a term coined by president and CEO Ginni Rometty. New collar skills involve knowledge in data science, cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. New graduates and experienced technical professionals alike will be hired to fill these opportunities.

The new positions will be created within the next two years. They include 400 IBM hired in March for research at the French AI for Humanity summit. IBM has been steadily reducing its presence in France since 2012, but new hirings will help IBM return to previous numbers.

IBM has also announced a partnership with the French government regarding its Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) education system. P-TECH gives disadvantaged people the ability to obtain skilled labor.

It is to no surprise that Rometty spearheaded discussions about education during the summit, and will use insight gathered to better French education. The company is also introducing IBM France Academy supplemented with online courses. This will train IBM France employees, partners, and clients in skills that will prepare them for the AI-era.

Most of IBM’s clients within France utilize Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, to accelerate their business operations. Introduction of blockchain technology could potentially make Watson more potent.

IBM has won deals in multi-line insurance, bank guarantees, the automobile industry, and global food-supplying industry, among others, thanks to its strides in blockchain technology.

According to a report by MarketandMarkets, blockchain tech is expected to be worth USD 2.3 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 61.5%. IBM has been slowly gaining ground within the blockchain space and its investments in France are just their latest efforts.

 

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French Finance Minster’s Gallic Crypto Passion

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.

 

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