Binance, one of the world’s biggest crypto exchange has become the first to secure a license from Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), France’s SEC or FCA.
“As the first major global crypto exchange to register in France, we will be able to bring cryptocurrency services and education to millions,” Binance said.
They now plan to “significantly scale our operations in France to make crypto and our services more accessible to all.”
Speaking to FT’s Crypto and Digital Assets Summit prior to announcing the license, Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao said:
“We are now integrating with traditional financial sectors much better. And so I do believe that crypto cannot exist on its own. Today, 99.7 per cent of the money is still in Fiat. So we need to build a bridge.
Binance wants to be the bridge between the crypto world and the traditional financial world. And in order to integrate with the traditional financial world, we have to be fully regulated, fully licensed, et cetera, and that’s a process we’re going through.”
The initially crypto only exchange which started off as an ICO, did not have a headquarters or a formal structure to keep in line with decentralization, but that’s no longer the case.
“We have a standard corporate structure now. That’s a prerequisite for getting licences,” Zhao said.
France has been very friendly to this space, passing liberalization laws to attract crypto entities and to better facilitate digital capital formation.
Their tax rate might have been uncompetitive six years ago however when London was an option, but Brexit and a cooling of attitudes towards cryptos during Theresa May, made the once capital of Fintech a less appealing place.
The Boris Johnson administration is trying to change that, with the chancellor Rishi Sunak in particular appearing to be very friendly to this space, yet at least for Binance they clearly can’t compete with France due to it offering them the entire European market.
Why not Frankfurt? Germany has also tried to attract this space with even proposals for tokenized stocks. They also now have a finance minister, Christian Lindner, that you’d think should be very friendly towards cryptos as he is from the yellow classic liberals party.
But, currently Germany is clearly very busy with other matters and under Angela Merkel there wasn’t quite a push towards this space of the same scale as from the Emmanuel Macron administration in 2018.
He led the charge for crypto Europe, and so he gets rewarded. But neither UK nor Germany will stand still, and for all three, there has been a bit of a shift in the political calculus under the Biden administration.
The confrontational United States that this space has come to know while it was dealing with its deep bureaucracy of specialized agencies that no one knows, is very gradually starting to become a thing of the past as crypto now sits at the elected table.
Biden perhaps even wants to be a bit bolder and embrace this space, but there’s probably that stiff upper lip air still. Yet the advantage that Europe has seen due to US coldness probably won’t last for long. And so Lindner and Macron need to move on European wide financial reforms of the single market to liberalize investments and attract more businesses as well as more startups funding.
“The registration of Binance France as a DASP is a key milestone for crypto in Europe,” David Princay, CEO of Binance France, said before adding:
“In particular, the new levels of protection for AML will help grow crypto adoption in France and Europe. Greater adoption will help bring better liquidity to the market, which will be welcomed by users and the community in particular.”