Just as Bitcoin (BTC/USD) and the entire crypto market are reeling from the effects of South Korea’s inconsistent stance on a possible trading ban and the increasing intensity of China’s crackdown, it appears that France might be joining their ranks with the establishment of a new cryptocurrency task force to oversee regulations.
In a report published by Les Echos, the French Minister of Economy, Bruno le Maire, announced the formation of a task force with former Banque de France deputy governor Jean Pierre Landau (or “Monsieur Bitcoin”, as he is being dubbed by French media) at its helm. As per le Maire:
“We want a stable economy: we reject the risks of speculation and the possible financial diversions linked to Bitcoin. I asked the Argentine G20 presidency to take up this issue and I have just entrusted Jean-Pierre Landau, former deputy governor of the Banque de France, with a mission on cryptocurrencies.”
While the statement does not declare outright war against cryptocurrencies, it does adopt a strict tone, calling for the prevention of criminal activities. As per the report, the task force will be responsible for “proposing guidelines on the evolution of regulations…to better control development and prevent their use for purposes of tax evasion, money laundering or financing criminal activities or terrorism.”
In addition, the choice of Landau as head of the task force is significant, given that he is a known critic of Bitcoin. In 2014, Landau penned an op-ed in Financial Times, which dismissed Bitcoin as an “unsuitable” means of exchange, and likened it to the 17th-century tulip bulb mania, claiming the cryptocurrency is only popular owing to two main reasons – anonymity and speculation.
The recent spate of government crackdowns on cryptocurrencies has shaken the market, with Bitcoin plunging below $10,000 recently, and taking almost all alt-coins with it. For governments, the justification for putting the pressure on cryptocurrencies is their potential for usage in criminal activities, and the rampant scams and unregulated ICOs cropping up on a daily basis.
Most recently, Bitconnect, a long-suspected scam, came to a close as the company announced the shutdown of its platform and exchange where users loaned their BCC tokens to earn up to 40% interest.
Following Bitconnect’s closure, its token price, which was around $400 earlier this month, dropped to $8 as investors lost confidence and a massive sell-off ensued. Whether Bitconnect truly was a Ponzi scheme or not is overshadowed by the fact that investors lost money, and such incidents give credence to governments’ claims.
In the case of France, the ball is in Landau’s court, and it remains to be seen how his task force decides to tackle cryptocurrency regulations in the country.