Business 14 December 2018

Erik Gibbs

French lawmakers seek €500M blockchain fund, mining perks

Two French parliamentarians are advocating €500 million ($570 million) for the development of blockchain in the country.

Representatives Jean-Michel Mis and Laure Raudière released a report this week, calling on the government not to be left behind when it came to promotion of blockchain projects.

The report looks to integrate the €500 million beginning with the 2020 budget, and deploying the amount over a three-year period. Mis was reported by Les Echos as saying that 2018 was “year zero” when it came to popularization of blockchain in France, with 2019 ushering in an ecosystem for this.

La Nation reported Mis as predicting that people are soon going to experience blockchain as a part of their everyday lives.

Funding in support of blockchain could come, according to Mis, from redeploying credit granted by the French National Research Agency and the Public Investment Bank (BPI France).

Mis brushed off concerns that €500 million was considerably less than the €1.5 billion ($1.71 billion) announced by President Emmanuel Macron for developing artificial intelligence (AI) by 2022. Mis explained that blockchain was a different matter and relatively new, with less funding needed.

Raudière said it would be good for France to take the lead in harnessing the technology, and that consultations with businesses ought to be held.

As part of assisting the industry, Mis and Raudière recommended preferential power rates for cryptocurrency miners, to encourage them to set up in the country. Mis said that with France having to compete with large mining markets in China and the U.S., proper conditions have to be established for mining companies in France to be self-sustaining.

According to him, this would involve classifying mining as “electro-intensive” and thus eligible for lower electricity fees. He was quoted as saying, “We need to have our mining farms in France.” While there were already some miners such as BigBlock Datacenter in Nantes, these were considered modest in capacity compared to elsewhere in the world.

High power costs have been especially problematic in times when cryptocurrency prices are down, where only the most efficient mining equipment make for a return on investment.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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