France May Soon Regulate Cryptocurrencies

On October 9, 2017, France's Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) president Robert Ophèle released statements on possible cryptocurrency regulation among other details of his five-year financial program for the regulatory body.

As France's stock market regulator, the AMF manages financial instruments and is responsible for safeguarding investors. Ophèle was recently appointed president of the AMF, effective August 1, 2017, and is the successor to Gérard Rameix. As he looks toward a marketplace that will soon endure the economic and political pressures of the widely braced-for Brexit, it is clear Ophèle regards cryptocurrencies as a contender for the modern landscape of investing. When it comes to the volume of market capital that cryptocurrencies are responsible for, Ophèle acknowledged, "The amounts involved are no longer anecdotal."

Ophèle also spoke of how cryptocurrencies can be a vehicle for illegal activities, attracting those who seek to evade taxes, launder money, or finance terrorism. "But it also meets more legitimate needs for cash transfers in a fast and cost-free way in the world," said Ophèle, shifting to a lighter tone. "The financial industry is paying close attention. [So are the regulators] because behind the creation of money, there is normally a real economic activity. That is more debatable. The AMF is currently analyzing the legal framework for ICOs (initial coins offering, ed.), which are in the process of developing in France. We want to get a quick position on the issue."

It can be noted that in May of 2017, current president of France Emmanuel Macron briefly brandished a bitcoin hardware wallet, much to the delight of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. The presidential publicity might not be indicative of policies to come, but it suggests that the technology is on Macron's radar and thus more likely to be developed.

If the AMF does produce regulation, it will join a number of regulatory entities worldwide that have sought to provide guidance to both investors and companies seeking to engage in token offering-based crowdfunding activities.

Quotes translated from French using Google Translate.