Société Générale gets approval to operate digital assets in France
France is proving to be one of the most cryptocurrency-friendly countries in Europe after the country’s third largest bank, Société Générale, received approval to offer digital assets to its customers.
The decision by the French regulator, which was announced in recent days, allows it to store, sell and trade digital assets.
This important step toward more favorable regulation in a major country like France follows similar regulatory decisions by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) for foreign crypto companies including Crypto.com, Binance, and Luno.
To give just one example that nicely explains the favorable climate in the country toward the crypto world, last June, Il Beaugrenelle in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, which has 110 stores, announced that from Wednesday it will accept cryptocurrency payments, one of the first cases in Europe and the world.
And a few days ago the famous cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com, which has long since begun a dense promotional campaign especially in the world of sports, announced a 150 million euro investment in France to support its operations in the country. This includes the establishment of a Paris office as a base of operations in the European region.
Binance, the world’s largest exchange has decided to invest €100 million in France after obtaining a license to operate in the country. “France is in a unique position to be the leader of this industry in Europe,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said from the stage at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit in March, adding that the company already has a team of about 50 people in the country.
Société Générale enters the crypto world
Now this decision by the French regulator is another step toward a different attitude on the part of regulators and financial institutions and toward the world of cryptocurrencies.
Founded in 1864 and with assets of more than 1.4 billion euros in 2020, with 117,000 employees in 66 countries worldwide, it is the third largest French bank and the sixth largest banking group in Europe, and certainly this new fact will make a lot of noise in the world of finance not only in Europe.
The bank had announced in September that it was ready to launch Bitcoin and crypto funds and custodial services for digital assets, a service that has long been requested by French venture capitalists and funds, which for now were struggling to find such a service offered by financial institutions in the country.
Some funds, such as the €100 million Ledger Cathay Capital fund, for example, have been established as vehicles precisely to make investments in assets, such as digital assets, that are not regulated. This latest AMF ruling means that French venture capital firms seeking to guard their investments in tokens may now be able to use the services of one of its best-known banking operators.
That the wind for cryptocurrencies seems to be changing in France is also evidenced by what happened in June, when cryptocurrency custodian Metaco announced that it will partner with Société Générale’s Forge, also of Société Générale, which shows it wants to become the bank of choice in the country for digital assets, to expand its digital asset capabilities.
This also shows how France seems interested in becoming a true European technology hub for cryptocurrencies. The transalpine country has always adopted very favorable regulations for tech start-ups in general, creating space and funding and creating in Paris the most important tech start-up incubator in Europe.
France positions itself as a global hub for cryptocurrencies
French grandeur has always remained frustrated by the relative importance precisely as a financial center, compared to much more important financial centers such as London, Frankfurt or Zurich. Here then is where precisely digital assets could be the tool to make France and Paris a European center for cryptocurrencies, considering how in other countries, such as Britain for example, the attitude toward cryptocurrencies and digital assets is critical to say the least. Last the FSA, the London Stock Exchange regulator, banned the operation of the world’s largest exchange, Binance.
But doubts in this regard remain as we listen to the views of many experts. Among them is Daniele Casamassima, CEO of Pure, who states:
“To be honest, I don’t see Paris as a future crypto capital as it has never been a big financial hub. When it comes to forex, France is one of the most old-fashioned countries. Unlike Germany, the UK, Italy, Sweden, Poland and even Spain, France has never needed to be a very developed country in terms of using financial instruments.”
But the CEO of Binance doesn’t feel the same way at all, who instead thinks that Paris is already in a sense a kind of European technology hub for cryptocurrencies and all digital assets:
“Paris probably already is the financial hub for crypto in Europe and also probably in the larger part of the world. I think the Ministers and regulators here in France have put tremendous inputs and contributions to the MiCA regulations that are coming up.”
Indeed, a few weeks ago the MiCA, the regulation for cryptocurrencies and digital assets in Europe, was finally approved. However, the new regulation is not expected to go into action for another 9 to 12 months.