French Regulators, Central Bank Distance Themselves From Tobacconists’ BTC Retail Plans
French stock market regulator, the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF), has jointly issued a warning with the country’s central bank and French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR) recalling the risks associated with “speculative” crypto assets. The warning was posted as a press release on the AMF official website Nov. 26.
The three entities’ joint announcement has been issued in explicit response to recent news that France’s tobacco federation, the Fédération des Buralistes, had obtained permission to sell Bitcoin (BTC) at tobacconists as of January 2019. The AMF, ACPR, and Banque de France have today firmly stated that:
“[We] recall the risks associated with investing in speculative [crypto] assets, which are not well adapted to the profiles of unsophisticated private investors [...]. Purchase, sale and investment in Bitcoins are currently carried out outside any regulated market.”
As previously reported, the Fédération des Buraliste partnered with local cryptocurrency wallet provider KeplerK on plans to roll out Bitcoin vouchers — in denominations of 50, 100 and 250 euros — for sale across over 4,000 small tobacco retailers in France.
While media reporting indicated the initiative had been greenlighted by the ACPR, which acts under the auspices of the Banque de France, the central bank at the time adamantly refuted the claims.
Today’s announcement stresses that the entity using the trade name KeplerK, which reportedly “has a capital of 50000 euros [...] does not have any authorization or approval by a French or foreign authority, and is not likely to provide any guarantee to the customer base.”
It continues to clarify that KeplerK “must not be confused with companies approved in France such as Kepler Cheuvreux or Kepler capital markets, which have no connection with this activity.”
Last December, the governor of the Banque de France issued a robust warning against the high risks of Bitcoin investments, and the AMF has added multiple crypto-related sites to its investment blacklist on at least two occasions.
In September, nonetheless, the watchdog received new legal powers to grant licenses to companies that run Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), in a move that was presented as a bid to “attract investors from all over the world.”
Positive developments have continued this month, with the Finance Committee of the lower house of the French parliament adopting amendments to a tax bill that ease taxes on cryptocurrency sales.