Many people don’t realize that France is spearheading blockchain innovation in Europe. Blockchain organizations are welcomed to the capital, not just by its thriving startup ecosystem, but by the government as well, which is rare in today’s landscape. The country has attractive tax systems, the best tech visa, and blockchain-specific regulations, making it one of the easiest places in the world to start a business in the sector. Samantha Yap, the founder of Yap Global, joined a panel of experts from the very organizations that are leading the blockchain revolution in France to discuss why it is the best place for companies from all over the world to succeed.
According to the experts, these are only some of the many reasons blockchain organizations should move to France:
Relocation is not an issue for tech companies that want to relocate to France, because of the French Tech Visa. The visa lasts for 4 years, and is valid for all members of the company and their families. It is the most flexible tech visa in the world, and an example of how serious France is about fostering innovation. Over 400 startups have requested the visa since its introduction in March.
Blockchain companies moving to France will join a huge international community, including one of the biggest startup communities in the world. According to Kat Borlongan, the French startup ecosystem raised 3.6 billion euros in 2018, which was second only to the UK in Europe. What’s more, the ecosystem has the full support of the government, who created La French Tech, a program to help startups get funding, advice, and visas for international talents. Also, the blockchain ecosystem isn’t just made of startups. Larger French companies like Total, Engie, and Carrefour are working on blockchain technologies as well.
For the past two and a half years, the French Financial Markets Authority has been working to build regulatory frameworks for all kinds of blockchain startups, including trading venues, custodians, and advisors. The framework is groundbreaking compared to other countries, because it includes tax and accounting aspects as well. France was also one of the first countries to adopt a “blocking order that allows security tokens under certain conditions.” In addition, the “jeunes entreprises innovantes” tax system lowers taxes for startups that move to France, making it much easier for smaller companies to start out and find funding. It’s one of the “best R&D tax systems in Europe,” and was Kat Borlongan’s top reason why blockchain organizations should move to France.
The PACTE Bill, passed in April 2019, makes it much easier for companies to grow by providing flexible compliance measures. It introduced two new regimes for crypto assets, including an ICO regime that allows companies to ask for an optional visa from the regulator and a “virtual asset service providers” regime that serves as an intermediary for companies that offer trading venue, custodian, portfolio management, and advisory services. Importantly, this means that “certain types of investment funds will be able to invest in crypto assets.” This demonstrates the government’s commitment to fostering innovation, which is difficult to find elsewhere.
The government-owned Deposits and Consignments Fund invests directly in companies and startup infrastrastructure projects. Nadia Filali talks about her organization that’s part of the fund, called LaBChain, that brings together banks, insurance companies and startups, because “the talents are in the small companies, and the business opportunities are in the larger companies.” Additionally, the fund has invested 300 million euros in blockchain and AI in the European Commission’s Investment Program for the Future (Programme d’investissements d’avenir.)
France’s innovative regulatory framework has caught the eye of many international startups, and the capital is therefore starting to replace London as the fintech hub of the world. On top of that, the fact that over 1,000 people attended the Paris Blockchain Week Summit illustrates that, as Michael Amar said during the panel, the country is “ready for blockchain.” Amar also mentioned that 50% of startup applications for Chain Accelerator come from the United States, because the landscape is “more attractive,” and major players like Facebook, Google and Microsoft have moved their artificial intelligence centers to the capital as well.
This was only a sample of the takeaways from the “Why Blockchain Organizations Should Move to France” Panel. The full transcript of the panel is available below for more insights.