Category Archives: France

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Mais Oui! French Tabacs to Sell Bitcoin Next Year

The French Tabac (tobacco store) is a national institution but next year is changing quite dramatically as along with your pack of Gitanes, morning coffee and perhaps a small cognac, you can now pick up your Bitcoin.

The Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), the institution charged with monitoring the transactions performed by banks and insurance companies in France, has given tobacconists the green light to sell Bitcoin over the counter from the beginning of 2019 through Point of Sale (POS) locations at participating tabacs throughout the country.

The initial launch of the groundbreaking concept will see between 3,000 and 4,000 tabacs selling Bitcoin in amounts of 50, 100, or 250 euros. The firm Bimedia, a company which provides terminals for the collection of items at tabacs, has combined with the KerplerK cryptocurrency platform to provided the POS terminal system.

Customers will be able to purchase their Bitcoin using the on-site POS devices and then use an issued ticket to redeem their digital currency amount on the KeplerK website. Phillipe Coy, President of the Confederation of Tobacco shops, sees the move as a way of bringing the French tabac into the 21st century, suggesting that adding Bitcoin sales “brings us closer to modern times of consumption, and use”.

The tabacs offer a unique public service to French communities, particularly in small villages where they often cover for the local bakery and other services. Bitcoin would simply be one more product available to customers who are unable to have access to larger centers.

La Fédération des Buralistes (the Confederation of Tobacco Shops) offers KerplerK the potential for 25,000 POS for Bitcoin. The company has claimed that it currently has 27,000 operators and POSs which would make it a world leader in the field.

The French aim is still geared towards establishing a more global regulatory network as digital currency is used globally, not simply in France. The country’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has suggested that the G20 need to reach agreement on how Bitcoin could be regulated among member countries.

Locally, the focus lately in France has been adjusting its tax system to accommodate cryptocurrencies, resulting in dropping the tax rate to 19% but this figure has recently been amended. It appears the French government is still struggling to adapt to the addition of digital currency to the country’s financial structure.

 

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Identification, Tax, Self-Regulation Named Emerging Trends in Crypto Regulation

Ex-senior official at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Jeff Bandman recently shared his expectations on the future of cryptocurrency regulations, pointing to identity checks, a clearer tax obligation, and industry self-regulation as trending areas.

Bandman said that a turning point for cryptocurrency regulation came in 2013 when the US government auctioned off the substantial amount of confiscated Bitcoin seized in dark web outlet Silk Road’s closure.

”When the US government seizes narcotics they don’t auction it off to the American people, to me that was a real watershed moment,” he said, interpreting this as the government’s acknowledgment of it as something legal.

KYC, AML

The area where Bandman sees greatest conversions is that surrounding around anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing. Although he acknowledged that people are laundering at higher levels with cash than cryptocurrencies, he cites that statistically GBP 100 billion is estimated as launder in Europe every year, with around GBP 3 or 4 billion of that laundered in cryptocurrency. ”That’s still a lot and governments around the world are focusing on that,” he clarified.

”It’s a big theme as we go through 2018 and in to 2019… country by country mainstream departments of finance and justice will be handling this alongside an international group called the Financial Action Task Force which will have new standards by June.”

For businesses in this space, compliance to tighter regulation will be a core theme; ”whether or not you think its appropriate considering other certain software or consumer products are subject to KYC (know your customer) or AML at this level, it will be the defining characteristic for these types of assets.”

Taxes

Bandman noted that taxing cryptocurrency came to the US government’s attention in 2013, 2014, although there was and still is no consistent treatment globally. Each country is trying to deal with taxation, albeit in different ways, he said with the common denominator being a lack of clarity and consistency.

He gave the example of France’s intention to impose a 20% capital gains task on cryptocurrency which taxpayers are still unclear of on the logistics; whether it relates to corporate income or just capital: ”If buying a coffee with Bitcoin is there going to be gains or losses in that transaction or is that an exemption?”

”Crypto businesses and retails need a clear taxonomy. Some products such as airdrops and forks are novel compared to other taxable assets,” Bandman shared, suggesting that a clearer taxation policy is crucial for supporting national industries.

Exchange platforms

With the trading landscape rapidly evolving, Bandman pointed to the US as going particularly quickly in this area of regulation partly because of the country’s extremely broad definition of a security and investment contracts.

Other regions benefit trading because their definitions are not so broad: ”In the EU, the definition of security generally excludes most cryptoassets. In the US, cryptoassets must comply with securities laws for the most part with exception of sufficiently decentralized coins like Bitcoin and Ether. Other countries have developed a bespoke framework, such as Gibraltar and Bermuda which have provided a specific framework for virtual currencies.”

Japan, however, is the nation that Bandman sees as setting the future trends for exchange regulations. He described Japan as ”leading the world” since giving specific authority to its financial market regulator to market cash or spot trading of cryptocurrencies. Now it has just authorized the first self-regulatory organization which gives trading platforms authority to police themselves.

”These are very important elements for trends in the landscape moving forward,” he concluded.

Bandom established and chaired the CFTC blockchain, virtual currency, and fintech working group from inception, serving with the CFTF from 2014-2017. He now lectures at Yale University and acts as Founder and Principal of Bandman Advisors.

His comments were made at Decentralized 2018, a blockchain conference that took place in Athens, Greece last week.

 

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French Crypto Taxes See Yet Another Drop Proposal

After stating in April 2018 that cryptocurrency taxes in France would be lowered, it appears that the government has settled on a figure.

Gains from the sale of cryptocurrencies were previously labeled as industrial and commercial profits under French tax law and therefore could have up to as much as 45% tax levied on them for larger users. With French social security contributions (CSG) currently standing at 17.2%, some wealthier crypto traders could have been paying a massive 62% in tax.

In April the Conseil-D’état, under new tax laws specifically aimed at Bitcoin had suggested setting the new crypto tax rate at 19%, which is the same rate applied to what the French call “movable property”, such as cars, jewelry, and patents. Bitcoin would fall into that same category.

However, the Finance Commission in France’s lower house of parliament revealed on Wednesday that its latest amendment to French taxation as it applies to cryptocurrency assets proposes a flat rate of 30%, equal to the current rate of French capital tax, from January of 2019.

The Bank of France proposed a ban earlier this year on investment companies to keep financial institutions from conducting business in the cryptocurrency market until the government could enact proper regulation. The Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau commented earlier this year that new laws were required to cover cryptocurrency exchanges, assuring investors who had previously been shocked when he commented:

“Bitcoin is in no way a currency or even a cryptocurrency. It is a speculative asset. Its value and extreme volatility have no economic basis, and they are nobody’s responsibility.”

The latest details coming from France’s lower house are sure to encourage investors, although original suggestions of a new rate of 19% proposed by the Conseil-D’état earlier in the year would have been far more warmly received by the industry.

The French aim is still geared towards establishing a more global regulatory network as digital currency is used globally, not simply in France. The country’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has suggested that the G20 need to reach agreement on how Bitcoin could be regulated amongst the member countries.

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French College Opens Up Tuition Payments to Bitcoin

A French business school has announced that its foreign students will now able to pay their course fees using Bitcoin.

The Financia Business School in Paris, which includes master classes in fintech and blockchain technology on its curriculum, has included Bitcoin as a payment method to serve its 25% foreign enrolment. The college, which also offers bachelor’s and MBA qualifications, has a significant student intake from large Paris-based banking institutions such as Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole.

Paris–based blockchain startup Coin Capital have come on board to enable the innovative Bitcoin payment service which has so far attracted five students who have already paid their 2018 course fees in BTC. One such student, Adam Hasib, commented:

“I became interested in this technology early on and quickly became a staunch supporter of blockchain’s decentralized model… by June 2017, I had acquired my first Bitcoins, which allowed me to pay the registration deposit at school… I just had to contact the administration to get the wallet address before [making] my deposit.”

Financial has indicated that it has further plans for using new tech such as crypto and blockchain, particularly to support some of the college’s administrative processes. A token is also planned for the future, along with further blockchain courses with the college hoping to include partner institutions in its future innovations.

With Bitcoin stabilizing, universities are increasingly opening up educational projects for blockchain technology with the number of universities and educational facilities running blockchain and cryptocurrency courses growing around the globe as financial markets expand and absorb more blockchain-related products.

Toptal, a marketplace for hiring tech talent, has recorded a 700% increase in demand for blockchain developers since January 2017. There are now many opportunities for blockchain developers, but clearly not enough skilled technicians to fill these gaps. Universities are seizing the opportunity to use this opportunity by increasing courses which focus on emerging technologies, such as DLT and cryptocurrency, including some top ivy league universities in the US.

 

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Regulations Push Number of Crypto Ads in France Down 11%

Following France’s decision to ban cryptocurrency advertising and restrict contract for difference (CFD) ads, these two areas have seen their share of the financial advertisement market plummet. CFD refers to a popular form of derivative trading.

France’s financial markets regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) shared the financial advertisement stats from January-September on Friday, revealing that crypto-related ads dropped to just a 12% share in the market compared to a 23% share in Q1 of this year. These ads include that of ICOs, blockchain services, and other related products.

Earlier this year French financial regulators declared that financial products relating to cryptocurrency must legally be defined as derivatives. As well as meaning that they now require regulation, and crypto exchanges require formal authorization to list the ‘derivatives’ and have been barred from advertising them online.

Last year, CFDs and other speculative investment ads, including those relating to cryptocurrency, boasted 50% of the total financial advertisement market, whereas so far this year they have dropped to one quarter.

AMF said that in the wake of the recent cryptocurrency craze, the number of binary options and CFDs offered from forex brokers relating to digital currencies exploded, offering investors contracts that allow them to bet on the rise and fall of crypto prices without investors actually holding the cryptocurrency themselves.

Despite losses in the ad market, French authorities have been aiding the growth of the blockchain industry by cutting the high-band tax rate on profits from 45% to just 19% in April this year. There is an additional contribution added to the social welfare system that pushes the new rate up to nearly ‎‎35%, although this is still a 25% reduction from the original total.

Bitcoin in France is currently classified as ”moveable property,” making it subject to capital gains tax which stands at a flat rate of 19%.

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Hardware Wallet Sales Booming as Nano S Tops 1.3 Million Units

French crypto hardware manufacturer Ledger has now sold over 1.3 million units of its Nano S wallets, according to a recent blog on their website.

The peak sales come at a time when the demand for such devices is on an all-time high. The changing trend is quite evident by the sales numbers of Ledger Nano S as well as its rival Trezor’s recently launched Model T which has interested buyers in a long waitlist. Also, the Nano S is now available over the counter as a dutyfree item at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, such is its popularity, particularly amongst travellers.

Such wallets, promoted as being unhackable and therefore the safer way of storing coins and conducting transactions, gained some critics earlier this year when Bitfi, with a new wallet on the market, challenged anyone to hack the device.  15-year-old Saleem Rashid took on the task successfully, which resulted in BitFi withdrawing its guarantee.

CEO Eric Larchevêque claims that Ledger is planning updates to tighten the security of the hot-selling nano with “a chip designed specifically to resist highly skilled attackers and a custom OS designed specifically to protect crypto assets.”

Ledger has a clear run in the market with Trezor the only other major competitor in the sector to date. Trezor had reputed sales of 800,000 units some months ago, but this wasn’t confirmed by the company. There are others on the market, but as yet they have presented no challenge to the top two hard-wallet leaders.

Although advertised as a reliable storage option, these wallets have incurred problems in the past and Ledger has had its own issues, resulting in a temporary shut down of its Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) infrastructures in August. The resulting outcome was that Ledger announced that there had been no hack, but a glitch that occurred due to a “side effect when [it] pushed an update to invite users to use the Ledger Live instead of the Chrome app.” A refund of any funds lost was offered to users.

The market is booming despite the occasional unit glitch, due to investors’ needs for a portable, safe way of storing their crypto with an easy recovery option, should units be lost or damaged; attributes which most of these units on the market provide.

Ledger also announced recently that it will be expanding its business into cryptocurrency custodianship, and is planning another major investment round that has already sparked interest from Google, Siemens, and Samsung, which may bring their valuation up to USD 1 billion.

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“Mad Money” Looks at Crypto Art From a Whole New Perspective

A “Mad Money” exhibition taking place in Moscow on the 18th October is dedicated to the art of crypto mining and trading.

Moscow’s Electromuseum is hosting the event, where installations and artwork will examine the nature of the industry in a whole new way, with artists attempting to demonstrate how modern financial instruments can transform society, according to curator Aristarkh Chernyshev.

In the process of putting on the exhibition, Chernyshev was intrigued that many of the artists came up with original ideas for using the heat created by mining. Such ideas, creating by-products from the mining process are gaining popularity. A French-based startup recently came up with a unique idea enabling users to heat their homes whilst using the same energy to mine cryptocurrency.

Mad Money’s artists have used transaction data, stock reports, and microchips as materials for their work, at the exhibition which includes participants such as “One red paperclip’” Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who once bartered his way from a single red paperclip to a house in a series of fourteen online trades over the course of a year.

The event was launched on the back of a Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary exhibition in Paris earlier this month where artists from all over the world arrived with their own very individual commentaries on the world of cryptocurrency. Featured artwork included Marguerite deCourcelle, also known as Coin Artist who in 2014 painted a picture which contained an encrypted access to five bitcoins and Josephine Bellini, a painter of “Filter”, and Andy Bauch who created his works on the basis of Lego.

The crypto art movement is growing rapidly with some exceptional concepts being created, such as by New York conceptual artist and photographer Kevin Abosch, who earlier this year created 10 million IAMA Coin tokens using the Ethereum ERC-20 protocol. The artist drew six vials of his own blood stamping 100 blockchain addresses where the IAMA Coins reside onto 100 separate pieces of paper using the bodily fluid. Lorenzo Sconci, the owner of Dubai-based Sconci Art Gallery, and CEO of crypto startup ArtWallet which records art provenance on a blockchain commented about this new wave of art:

“Without a doubt, bitcoin and blockchain has been the biggest revolution over the past 10 years. As revolutions have shaped artistic expression throughout time, there is no doubt that crypto will accomplish the same.”

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IBM’s Food Trust Blockchain Goes Live, Carrefour Jumps in First

Multinational tech giant IBM has been leaving a significant imprint on the retail industry lately with the use of blockchain technology, and it’s doing again with the latest project, Food Trust.

IBM, not content with providing foodchain solutions for mega-retailer Walmart, has now hooked up with French supermarket giant Carrefour in order to launch blockchain based Food Trust, enabling the chain to price its products more accurately.

The recent IBM/Walmart project came up with a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology which Walmart committed 100 of its suppliers to adhere to. Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of new technology in sectors including business and commerce. Walmart has become a primary mover in the industry in pushing blockchain forward with numerous patents pending.

The latest IBM deal with Carrefour, now operating in over 12,000 locations around the globe, offers three individual retailing solutions using DLT. The first of which, called “Trace” offers a sophisticated system of tracking products from source, which also factors in shipping and production costs, allowing the retailer to arrive at a fair price to pass on to customers.

Other aspects of Food Trust in its present early form focus establishes how goods fit retailers “Fair Trade” or “Organic” tags in order to be accurately listed on the blockchain, adding to buyer confidence.

Carrefour itself is no stranger to using emerging technologies in recent months and made a recent impact on the French farming sector this year with its blockchain based system which began tracking its chicken supply. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

Carrefour may be the first to use the latest IBM system, but now Food Trust is live and it’s there to be used by all in the food industry moving forward.

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Heat Your House Whilst Earning Using French Crypto-Heater

A French-based startup has come up with a unique idea which enables users to heat their homes whilst using the same energy to mine cryptocurrency.

Startup Qarnot has manufactured the QC 1 crypto-heater, one of two products using both heating and computer energy, which uses the heat generated by home computers to heat the surrounding area via a system of graphic plates.

The crypto-heater is advertised as the only one in the market to be perfectly noiseless with no embedded mobile parts (no fans, no hard drives) and IP-protected. Taking only 10 mins to set up, the heat of the QC-1 is generated by 2 graphics cards embedded in the device enabling the mining of cryptocurrencies or blockchain transactions, while it heats.

At 2,900 euros plus shipping, this heater doesn’t come cheap though. The unit is advertised as configured to mine Ethereum and has extra controls which allow the user to follow the crypto market, either through an LED readout on the heater or via a downloadable app. Heater owners are able to mine other cryptocurrencies through a GitHub link which will give them the necessary codes.

As for dual-usage household products, this time not designed on a commercial level, but more as a bi-product, Alabama IT worker Lee, gave up his graphics card that he was using for Bitcoin mining for his bathtub. This turned out to be a much better tool for the job. By using ambient air pulled into a system to cool his ASICs and heated air pushed through a water-to-air intercooler pumped through from his bathtub, he generated enough computer heated water to keep his mining habits up to par.

The only problem was, he generated bathwater of 122F/50C, so fearing for the life of his pets he decided to halt his bathtub mining activities.

“Imagine a crypto heated swimming pool or anything else you could heat with the output from a small, medium, or large-scale mining operation,” gta3uzi wrote on Reddit.

Some suggestions arising from his post included using the hot water to create a sauna, heating his home, drying one’s hair, and even cooking a steak sous vide.

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700 French Savers Targeted By Bogus Exchanges in $35 Million Hype

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French independent stock market regulator in that country, has told French newspaper La Parisienne that 700 savers have fallen foul of a current bout of phone scams in this year alone.

The amount of money lost to the scams is estimated to be around EUR 31 million ($35 million) according to the newspaper report. The scammers have taken to targeting victims via phone, after promising huge investment returns on Bitcoin via ads posted by phony sellers online.

Unfortunately, most of the victims are not crypto-aware, know nothing of the technology, and can only see the possibility of making a fast return on their savings simply too good to pass up, according to the French site Cryptonaute.

Lawyer Hélène Féron-Poloni, who is a specialist in inheritance cases, maintains that most savers have exactly no idea what’s happening when they commit to transferring their funds to “fabulous investments,” often confused by the technical jargon fed to them by the callers.

Marketing Director of Coinhouse, Brian O’Hagan, describe this year’s epidemic as “a plague, we’ve spotted over 200 fraudulent websites,” he commented.

These events, involving scammers either offering high returns for Bitcoin investment or as has been the case in the UK, using celebrities to promote unsound and often illegal deals, are worrying, but the cases of Bitcoin used in major crimes have been proven to be highly exaggerated.

It is undeniable that just like cash, cryptocurrencies are on the radar of criminals but the use of Bitcoin in criminal activity has dropped to 35% of the market share from a peak of 80% when the flagship digital currency was in its infancy.

In the US, a senior member of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies Centre on Sanctions and Illicit Finance recently spoke out against anti-crypto rhetoric, particularly those aimed at the financing of militant jihads, a reason often used by governments as a cause celebre for not advocating the use of cryptocurrencies. He referred to a recent report which found that:

“The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions – their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.”

In response to this year’s figures, the Autorite des Marches Financiers has increased its blacklist of dubious exchanges suggesting that they offer “unauthorized operations and atypical investments” warning investors and savers that “no advertising materials should make you overlook the fact that high returns always involve high risk.”

France remains open to cryptocurrency and blockchain projects and the AMF is also gaining sweeping powers to grant licenses to new initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. The French government is hopeful that with sound legislation and a legal framework, France will be able to continue to attract investors from around the world.

 

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