Will cryptocurrencies soon end in France?

A bill carried by two Socialist MPs aims to ban the promotion of cryptocurrencies by influencers. It will be considered in the Milli Majlis at the beginning of February.

The bill, which references flagship reality shows Loft Story and Star Academy, has apparently not gone unnoticed by crypto-influencers. This proposal, “aimed at combating the extremism of influencers in social networks”, was registered in the National Assembly at the end of December by deputies of the socialist group Arthur Delaport and Boris Vallaud. The text intends to regulate the activities of influencers, who constitute a “new form of worker” in social networks.

The latter may be prohibited from publishing certain content on various topics posted for reward. “Content intended for sale is sometimes more problematic than a simple lipstick promotion,” the text, especially where cryptocurrencies are mentioned, emphasizes.

“Strong political message”

More specifically, the proposal intends to prohibit the promotion of “digital assets that involve financial investment and risk of loss for the consumer” on social networks. Specifically, crypto-influencers will no longer be able to promote a crypto project submitted for reward. Showing that the post is sponsored in black and white is also unacceptable. They will only be able to register cryptocurrencies to popularize the ecosystem. Failure to comply with this bill will be punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros.

MP Arthur Delaporte explained to BFM Crypto: “There have been a lot of scams, we had to send a strong political message, we have to stop dangerous promotions that cause consumers to lose money.”

This text has been around for some time with many “watch groups” warning of scams by certain cryptocurrency influencers. This is part of the special context today with 2022 being an unprecedented year for the crypto ecosystem. Indeed, many investors suffered significant losses after the collapse of many crypto projects, such as luna or FTT (crypto of the FTX platform), which were the subject of numerous promotions. A context that may give importance to this bill.

Text verification in early February

The rapporteur for this bill, MP Arthur Delaport, will present the text to the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly on February 1. The text will be voted on by deputies in the hemisphere on February 9. According to our information, some corrections can be made to this text. If the bill is passed by the deputies, it will then be voted on by the Senate. If both sides agree, the text could be published by the end of the year. If so, this will be a blow to crypto-influencers.

“This is a bit of a shock in the ecosystem, because it also allows projects to emerge and become known to the general public. This is what allows me to offer content for others like me”, slips an actor to BFM Crypto.

Is this bill likely to succeed? Carried by a group of socialists, it will be submitted to the expertise of the majority, at the same time, global views on the activities of influencers have emerged. Indeed, the first meetings will take place this month at Bercy, which launched an influencer working group.

In addition, at the end of the year, two more bills to regulate the activities of influencers were discussed: one led by Nupes deputy Aurelien Tache and the other by Insoumis deputy François Piquemal. If the first bill does not mention cryptocurrencies, Francois Piquemal’s law is very critical of bitcoin.

It was in the 2010s that “cryptocurrencies emerged, led by bitcoin, which, thanks to their dazzling success, became increasingly important objects of investment and speculation. It was in this context that the number of online scams developed and proliferated,” we read.

With the bill now in the hands of MPs, where is the procedure in France? “Until now, the AIF has banned many things but done very little, leaving the biggest aberrations unpunished on crypto YouTube,” said a crypto influencer with over 50,000 subscribers. After approval, some crypto-influencers who promote dangerous projects are still present on social networks. “You can publish nuanced content for educational purposes,” he explains. Not all cryptocurrencies should be lumped into the same bucket, but some are becoming popular and remain beneficial to their communities.

AMF should tighten the screw

AIF may also tighten the screw soon. In 2021, the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority (ARPP) introduced a “certificate of responsible influence”, noting that “more than 1 in 4 content is not transparent about commercial cooperation”. This certificate must be renewed during 2023. This certificate, which gives influencers some credibility, will in no way endorse influencers’ content. It also won’t allow influencers to sell financial products to their clients.

Therefore, it should be clearly distinguished from the AIF certificate, which enables a financial professional to sell financial products to his clients. Despite the introduction of such a certificate in the future, it is the Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Prevention of Frauds (DGCCRF) that has the power to sanction influencers in the case of a derivative.

Similarly, Article 80 of the European regulation MiCa (for crypto-assets market) lists “behaviors” that will be considered market manipulation once the regulation enters into force, around 2024. Thus, crypto-influencers who send numerous messages about cryptocurrencies (or cryptocurrency-related projects) are in the European spotlight every day.

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