French Regulator Requires Bitcoin Exchanges to Register

The French banking regulator intends to treat digital currency exchanges like any other payment service.

AccessTimeIconJan 29, 2014 at 5:06 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 10:18 a.m. UTC

The French Prudential Supervisory Authority (ACPR), which regulates the nation's banks, has issued a statement clarifying the status of bitcoin and bitcoin exchanges in the country.

In addition to the standard list of concerns and warnings, the regulator points out that anyone operating a bitcoin exchange in France must have a license.

The ACPR has now adopted the position that intermediation in the sale or purchase of bitcoins, or receiving funds to transfer bitcoins, requires the seller to be treated like any other payment service. This means any exchange will have to be approved by the ACPR as a provider of payment services.

The authority also reminded the public that the European Banking Authority (EBA) has already issued public warnings about digital currencies. The concerns include the lack of regulatory authority and protection in case an exchange or other bitcoin-related service defaults, the risks involved with storing bitcoins on a computer, lack of a protective legal framework, high volatility, risk of abuse by criminals, and possible tax implications.

The regulator stresses that exchange platforms that acquire or sell bitcoins for legal tender must make transactions through a registered provider, such as a credit institution, payment institution or an electronic money institution.

This public statement does not change much for bitcoin users in France, who will not be affected. However, those planning to open an exchange in France will have to register first.

The ACPR pointed out that it was prompted to make the statement in light of recent criminal events, mainly in the US, and the risk of fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing associated with anonymous financial instruments like digital currencies.

Bank image via Shutterstock

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