France, Influencers, Regulation

France introduces new certificate for influencers in finance, ‘crypto’

France has introduced a new training module and certificate for influencers in finance, including digital asset influencers.

The Responsible Influence Certificate is aimed at professionalizing commercial influence and comes at a time when global authorities are scrambling to regulate the sector.

The certificate has been around since 2021 and has been issued to over 1,000 financial influencers or finfluencers. However, the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP) and Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) have now added a training module for influencers in the financial sectors.

The AMF, which regulates the financial industry in France, joined the advertising industry watchdog ARPP to bring its expertise on financial product ads.

The new training module will cover products like equities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and bonds, as well as services like investment advice and portfolio management. Other areas of focus will include “crypto-assets and digital asset service providers.”

Influencers targeting French investors can only obtain the revamped certificate after attaining the general certificate. The latter requires influencers to reveal that any sponsored post is an advertisement and/or a commercial collaboration. ARPP monitors the certificate holders and can withdraw it if they fail to meet the set standards.

“Protecting retail investors is our top priority. If a publication by an influencer is paid for, it is crucial that the public is clearly informed. Finance is a highly regulated sector, and investment communications must comply with the rules and be clear, accurate, non-misleading, and balanced,” commented Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani, the AMF chair.

The certificate is not mandatory for influencers, however.

Digital asset advertising has come under increased scrutiny from regulators in recent times as the number and magnitude of scams and collapses surges. Influencers have become embroiled in lawsuits for their roles in pushing some of the more high-profile scams.

In the U.S., several celebrities have been sued by investors for pushing scams such as EthereumMax and, most recently, FTX. The former relied on endorsements from TV personality Kim Kardashian and boxer Floyd Mayweather. After its collapse, investors went after the influencers, and despite attempts to quash the lawsuit, a judge ruled to advance it three months ago.

FTX has dragged down even more influencers. They include TV star Larry David, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, NFL icon Tom Brady and more.

Regulators have taken varying approaches to digital asset influencers globally. In China, a popular social media platform recently banned 80 popular influencers in line with the government’s anti-crypto stance.

In the U.K., the FCA gained jurisdiction over finfluencers in June and has been cracking down on the sector. FCA now requires that even crypto memes carry a disclaimer on the risks involved.

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