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AMF Grants First Ever ‘ICO Visa’ In France

France has granted its first ever ‘visa’ of approval resulting from an application from a domestically operated ICO, signalling the successful acceptance and achievement of the most basic requirements for such a sale (rather than representing a full legislative pass for the sale as a whole).

Whilst not necessarily related directly, it must be noted that this move follows France’s recent introduction of a ‘Digital Tax’ against US based tech companies operating in the country.

Considering the widespread conclusion that the United States is relatively behind in its development of concrete regulations and legislation regarding cryptocurrency: this could be seen as a mild jab by France against the US.

“The AMF visa does not in any way constitute an assessment as to whether or not it is appropriate to participate in a token offer. It means that in the context of this public offering of tokens, the issuer has provided the minimum guarantees required by law and that the white paper is complete and understandable to investors…

The visa does not imply either approval of the appropriateness of the issuer’s project or authentication of the financial, accounting and technical information presented.

Moreover, the AMF does not carry out any verification of the smart contracts linked to the offering and does not verify the adequacy of these smart contracts with the content of the white paper.

Finally, for each offer, the public is invited to consult the risk factors section of the information document.”

AMF (press release)

It’s an optional visa programme was issued by French regulator the ‘Autorité des marchés financiers (aka the ‘Financial Markets Authority’, a self-described “independent public body”) under the Pact / PACTE law and “Only public offerings of so-called utility tokens, which are not considered as financial instruments, are eligible for this optional visa”.

The first ICO to receive approval is called ‘French ICO’ and its success or failure could have an important influence on how the optional visa programme is received in the future, and this reputation could affect the visa’s adoption rates also. The ICO is set to take place March 1 – June 1 2020.

“This approval is optional. In other words, ICOs without AMF approval are legal. However, ICOs that do not have visa and unlicensed service providers will be prohibited from solicitation, patronage and sponsorship activities.”

AMF (press release)

France and its sitting president Emmanual Macron have arguably acted as something of a democratic vassel for the European Union of late when it comes to issues of foreign political affairs. This latest combative war of words is just the latest examples of the EU using France and President Macron as voice pieces for its own sentiments.

From delivering largely empty warnings to British leadership on behalf of the EU in the midst of prolonged Brexit planning and negotiations; to presenting perplexingly hollow threats the incumbent president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, regarding the prospect of implementing a ‘Digital Tax’ specifically distinguishing against corporations based in the United States.

In retaliation, President Trump half-jokingly proposed the concept of imposing tariffs against the country on key exports such as cheese and wine. A concept which France’s Finance Minister responded transparently by practically admitting the countries limp poise in its position as a pawn-like vassal of the European Union: stating that such sanctions would be responded to by the EU“strongly” if enacted.

Overall however, this represents the first step from any country of the EU (and with EU approval, no more) towards attempting to seriously implement pro-crypto legislation.

Looking through a less cynical lens: if such a ‘visa’ based approval scheme works successfully in the country; it’s model may be adapted and spread through Europe.