France's central bank won't issue its own digital currency anytime soon because doing so would be a complex undertaking that could hurt the country's flailing economy. That's the assessment of Pauline Adam Kalfon, a blockchain and cryptocurrency partner at PwC France.
Pauline Kalfon: Bitcoin is Great, But Cool Your Heels
Kalfon admits there's growing interest in bitcoin and blockchain in France.
"France's central bank may not be the best entity to drive forward such a digital currency project, which would sit within the prerogatives of the European Central Bank."
"Having said this, Banque de France could seize technological leadership by following European Central Bank guidance."
"It is clear that a European-level project would be very complex and challenging governance-wise, requiring alignment and the political consensus of all relevant stakeholders from each Member State."
Crypto Should Be 'Battle-Tested' By Corporations
Kalfon says rather than have France's central bank issue a cryptocurrency first, it might be a better idea to have corporations such as Facebook or JPMorgan "battle-test" this experiment first.
"This would reduce the likelihood of potentially negative consequences on the economy arising from any central bank issuing a digital currency."
"The underlying rationale is...to achieve the right balance between investor protection and technology friendliness."
France's Finance Minister Once Hated Bitcoin But Now Embraces It
Interestingly, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire was once a vocal bitcoin opponent. He changed his mind in 2018 and started wholeheartedly embracing cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
"I was a neophyte a year ago [in 2017], but now I’m passionate. It took me a year. Let us show a lot of pedagogy with our fellow citizens to make France the first place of blockchain and crypto-active innovation in Europe."
However, Le Maire says the cryptocurrency revolution in France cannot happen without appropriate regulation to protect the public against the numerous scams that have roiled the industry.
Part of the reason for French politicians' abrupt reversal on crypto has to do with their hopes that France can harness blockchain technology to bolster its anemic economy.
Pro-Crypto French MPs Want to Invest 500 Million Euros to Make France ‘Blockchain Nation’ https://t.co/H4gxrZQKwJ
— CCN Markets (@CCNMarkets) December 13, 2018
Politicians: France Must Become a 'Blockchain Nation'
In December 2018, two members of the French Parliament urged the government to invest up to 500 million euros in blockchain programs to transform France into a “blockchain nation.”
To this end, Deputies Jean-Michel Mis and Laure de La Raudière outlined 20 proposals to promote the mainstream adoption of blockchain, as CCN reported.
“2019 will be the year of the blockchain in France,” Jean-Michel Mis said. “This 10-year technology is moving out of the experimental stage into industrial implementation. The public will see the emergence of its uses in their daily lives.”
Conférence de presse à @AssembleeNat suite à la présentation de notre rapport sur la #Blockchain. Occasion de montrer que les élus peuvent travailler ensemble sur des sujets innovants et aux potentiels essentiels pour notre pays #numérique #technologie #souveraineté #formation pic.twitter.com/JID6awOX8m
— Jean-Michel MIS (@JeanMichelMIS) December 12, 2018
Similarly, Laure de La Raudière admonished France to wake up and capitalize on the blockchain revolution before its rivals China and the United States beat them to the punch.
“France must have a conquering philosophy on this subject. I’m sounding the alarm: It is time to invest. We must accelerate with French and European public money.”