On March 19, 2018, Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister of France, published an op-ed describing the government's embrace of FinTech and blockchain technology. "[Although we are] benevolent about the potential and opportunities of the blockchain, we are also cautious," he said. "Supporting innovation does not preclude measuring the risks it brings."
Still, the finance minister demonstrated surprising passion. "Let's not be mere spectators," he beseeched, but "become actors in this revolution."
Le Maire expressed his desire for France to assume a leading role in the burgeoning sector, especially as it relates to initial coin offerings (ICOs). He wrote, "France has every interest in becoming the first major financial center to propose an ad hoc legislative framework that will allow companies initiating an ICO to demonstrate their seriousness to potential investors."
The finance minister shared that, in a few weeks, the Council of Ministers will present its Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Business (French: Le plan d'action pour la croissance et la transformation des entreprises). The plan would establish an ICO licensing regime overseen by France's stock market regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). Apparently, the AMF would also create a "white list" of projects that meet certain standards of investor protection.
In October 2017, ETHNews reported when the AMF requested public comment on ICOs.
Le Maire emphasized the French government's active approach to FinTech, noting that in December 2017, the Council of Ministers issued an ordonnance to permit the blockchain-based transmission of financial securities. In the United States, similar measures have been passed in Delaware and Wyoming.
Interestingly, in January 2018, Le Maire tasked civil servant Jean-Pierre Landau, an academic and intense bitcoin skeptic, with making proposals for France's blockchain and cryptocurrency legal framework. More than four years ago, Landau warned about the speculative nature of bitcoin in an op-ed for the Financial Times. He questioned the rate of bitcoin's issuance, and highlighted the competing priorities for a currency that functions as both a store of value and a medium of exchange. On his personal website, Landau labels his 2014 article as "still very relevant."
Appropriately dubbed "Monsieur Bitcoin," Landau served as deputy governor of France's central bank from 2006 until 2011. He previously served as a member of the board of directors for the Bank for International Settlements and as a member of the OCED's Working Group on Economic and Financial Policy.