Despite the industry’s relative infancy, until now, Asia has been arguably the epicenter of innovation for blockchain. More than most other regions, Asia has highlighted its willingness to embrace blockchain startups and crypto, creating a framework that supports the technology’s growth. This friendly attitude has been led by Japan, which already has constructed a regulatory model that actively encourages innovation, growth, and integration with more mainstream businesses and activities.
The west, on the other hand, has taken a much more uneven approach overall. Despite the billions of dollars chasing after the industry—both private and institutional—many Western countries have remained either hesitant or largely against blockchain. Even so, that attitude may be slowly changing, and with it, the balance of power within the blockchain ecosystem.
Recently, the European Union has sparked renewed interest in the area by creating a blockchain think-tank and forming its International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). Both initiatives are aimed at bringing the sector out from the shadows by adding transparency and providing the support necessary for it to grow.
More specifically, some countries seem to have taken the lead in this regard. France, for instance, has shown a willingness to become the European hub for blockchain with a set of regulatory changes and additions that make it one of the friendliest jurisdictions for the industry. With a variety of new initiatives, including a major blockchain event, France could quickly become the seat of innovation for blockchain in the western world.
A Course Correction
Despite its sluggishness off the blocks, Europe is finally coming to terms with blockchain, and with it, some of the world’s top economies. For advocates of blockchain, the EU’s approach has been assertive if slow. However, the bloc has taken some decisive actions such as fortifying anti-money laundering laws to deal with the changing reality of crypto exchanges.
Even in this case, regulators have been slow to move out of fear of hampering blockchain growth. In a more optimistic vein, the EU also beat the US to the post by permitting the creation of crypto ETFs, a major barometer for institutional blockchain acceptance.
The changes have been region-wide, but some countries have taken to them more enthusiastically. France, specifically, has been aggressively building their crypto regulatory framework to encourage growth. The biggest evidence of this advancing effort is underscored by recent comments from Digital Economy Minister Mounir Mahjoubi’s on the matter.
In prepared statements, the French Minister detailed the government’s roadmap to encourage blockchain growth and sustainability. To that end, the government announced that it would be investing in the sector financially, as well as provide educational resources and construct initiatives to spur mass adoption.
The educational pillar is perhaps the most advanced, as the country’s private sector is already looking to become a central hub for the industry. In the coming days, France will play host to the industry during the Paris Blockchain Week, which will bring together thousands of insiders, enthusiasts, and businesses. During the event, the Paris Blockchain Week Summit will also gather some of the brightest minds and biggest leaders in the sector. With speakers like Elixxir CEO David Chaum, Binance CFO Wei Zhou, and Ripple Global Head of Banking Marjan Delatinne.
Such gatherings present unique opportunities for France, and specifically Paris, to flex its blockchain muscles and establish itself as an industry innovation hub. While these events are commonplace across Asia, the French event is set to be one of the largest this year and will cover major topics ranging from technology to regulation and investment potential.
Outside of such events, France is also walking the walk when it comes to regulation. The government has already introduced new regulations for ICOs which are meant to increase transparency for the sector and create a safer investment vehicle both for companies and users who are seeking to purchase tokens. Additionally, officials revealed in December that they have pushed aggressively for the creation of a €500 million fund to incentivize and catalyze new applications and businesses that expand blockchain’s reach.
In some cases, the government has already started integrating blockchain in intriguing ways. For instance, the French National Council of Clerks has announced joint plans with IBM to use its Hyperledger blockchain to track changes in its Register of Commerce and Companies. This would allow clerks to quickly and instantly update information, reducing bureaucratic wait times and making for a more transparent system overall.
“I think the recent proposed regulation by Macron and the AMF will catapult France to become the leading location for aspiring Blockchain developers and investors, millions of people all over the world are eager to see regulatory clarity for Utility and Security tokens as well as stable coins. Celsius.network supports over 20 such coins today. I know the Internet started in France because I used the Minitel in Paris in 1987, so it is not a farfetched idea that the Internet 3.0 Blockchain revolution should come back to France. Blockchain will be bigger than the entire Internet because it will touch all the money in the world,” said Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius Network and a speaket at PBWS.
Meet Blockchain Central, Paris
All in all, these sweeping policy changes are quickly positioning France as a key hub for blockchain innovation and development. While it is still playing catchup to more established blockchain destinations like Japan, which is still the leader in Asia, and likely the world, the European nation has made great strides in the right direction.
Most importantly, officials and regulators have shown a willingness to not just tolerate or accept blockchain, but wholeheartedly embrace it as a key pillar of future economic progress. By working from the ground up, instead of simply reacting, France is rapidly repositioning itself as the most prominent blockchain leadership center of Europe, and possibly the West.