France’s Central Bank to Launch a Blockchain Innovation Lab

Journalist:
February 8, 2017

The Banque de France has revealed that it is opening a blockchain innovation lab as it seeks to work more with blockchain startups.

In a speech [PDF] presented by Banque de France governor Villeroy de Galhau last month at the Paris FinTech Forum, and published recently, the central bank explained that more work needs to be done with the blockchain.

According to Galhau, ‘the digital revolution is creating challenges but also incredible opportunities that are just waiting to be seized, whether by FinTechs themselves, by the entire financial system or by the French and European economy as a whole.’

In a bid to boost the FinTech sector within the country, the governor said that officials are opening a new blockchain innovation lab. According to the French central bank, it has already welcomed over 100 key innovators since the creation of its FinTech Innovation Unit. It has also set up a FinTech Forum with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) to increase the bank’s interaction with innovators.

By doing so, it plans on working alongside startups giving them the freedom to think outside the box.

Galhau understands that the digital revolution is disrupting traditional banks with its customers’ needs. So much so, that according to the French bank, in 2007 62 percent of French people visited their branch several times a month. In 2016, that number had fallen to as low as 20 percent with 13 percent belonging to the 18-34 age group.

He said:

Beyond customer relationships, financial companies need to take a more comprehensive approach if they are to succeed in the digital transition – placing innovation at the heart of their strategic management, as well as rethinking their business models.

Despite not providing more information as to when the blockchain innovation lab will launch, Galhau finished by saying:

“Rest assured we are fully mobilised towards this goal.”

French Bank Conducts Blockchain Experiment

In December, the central bank revealed details about a discreet blockchain experiment that it had undertaken in October.

The bank announced that it had tested the distributed ledger to understand the consequences of decentralizing ledger managing functions of SEPA credit identifier, a simplified version of cross-border Euro transfers within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

It was conducted in partnership with Parisian FinTech startup Labo Blockchain and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, which is a French public sector financial institution under parliament’s control and seen as the investment arm of the French government.

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