The role of blockchain technology in France

Despite being home to the largest cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer, blockchain in France has been slow to get off the ground - until now

Being home to some of the largest cryptocurrency companies in the world, you might have thought that blockchain in France would be more developed by now.

However, if it seemed like the French were snoozing their alarms, they’re definitely wide awake now. As the nation’s capital prepares to host Paris Blockchain Week, France is gearing up to be the next blockchain nation.

Blockchain in France

Despite popular street artists, a handful of ‘yellow vest’ protesters, and tobacco shops spreading awareness of Bitcoin, the French are certainly not at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption.

Just 2.4% of its population own cryptocurrencies of some kind. Compare this to the UK at 4.1%, the US at 5.3%, or South Africa at a massive 10.7%.

Speak to Ledger’s CEO Eric Larchevêque. He’s the first to admit that despite his company’s efforts, the French are not well-informed when it comes to Bitcoin.

But things could be about to change.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke at the 56th International Agriculture Fair in Paris in favour of using blockchain technology to innovate and invigorate supply chain management in European agriculture.

Blockchain regulation in France

Earlier this week, Coin Rivet reported that the French Parliament had recently passed the PACTE law. This is meant to encourage innovation and grant cryptocurrency companies access to banking services. It will also provide a legal framework for ICO issuers.

Despite blockchain in France failing to grab the headlines sooner, it has now emerged as one of the few G20 countries to establish such a framework over the last year.

So while Malta and Switzerland have been attracting the likes of Binance and the Ethereum Foundation, France is finally throwing its hat into the ring.

€500 million investment in blockchain in France over three years

The French parliament also released a recommendation in February this year to allocate some €500 million to the furtherment of blockchain in France.

Rather than some vague or empty claims, they outlined at least 20 different proposals on how the mass adoption of blockchain technology could be supported.

“2019 will be the year of blockchain in France”, stated parliament member Jean-Michel Mis.

Blockchain adoption by major French businesses

French international supermarket chain Carrefour has been experimenting with blockchain in the traceability of its food for a while. This March, the retail giant announced that it has officially launched Europe’s first food blockchain.

The company has already integrated blockchain technology into its supply chain. It currently tracks and monitors free-range Carrefour Quality Line Auvergne chickens. But now it will also use the system to track eight more products including salmon, ground beef steak, and eggs. The statement enthused that it was:

“An innovative system designed to guarantee consumers complete product traceability.”

Indeed, using blockchain in the supply chain has shown numerous benefits for similar companies, such as Walmart, as well. It can be extremely beneficial for adding transparency for all stakeholders and offering end consumers higher levels of food safety.

Not only that, Carrefour’s blockchain supply system will place a QR code on each item which allows consumers to trace the entire journey of the product. They can see where and how the animal was reared, what they ate, how they were slaughtered, and even if they received any treatments, such as antibiotics.

Banking and insurance

It’s not only the agriculture and retail sectors that are seeing wider adoption of blockchain in France. Some of the world’s largest corporations that are experimenting with blockchain are French.

World-renowned French insurance provider AXA Group, ranked number 33 on the Global 2000 list, launched its ‘Fizzy’ smart contract platform using Ethereum to expedite flight insurance payments.

And one of the world’s largest banks, BNP Paribas SA, with sales of over $117 billion, is also currently working with EY, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, to explore blockchain usage in its internal treasury operations.

Conclusion

Despite what seems like a slow start, the French could very well be in a good position to become a contender in the blockchain race. As the UK grapples with Brexit woes and the US drags its heels, France is stepping up to the plate.

Next month’s Paris Blockchain Week Summit has the full backing of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs. It certainly looks as if the role of blockchain in France is a growing protagonist – and it will be an interesting show to watch.

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