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French senate mulls allowing influencers to promote digital assets

After proposing a blanket ban on the use of celebrities to promote offerings by virtual asset service providers (VASPs), the French legislature is considering an amendment to the provision.

The French Senate’s Committee is deliberating the amendment on Economic Affairs following lawmakers’ release of a document. According to a translation of the paper, the revision seeks to allow firms registered with the country’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) to be registered.

Under the 2022 proposal, there appeared to be a blanket ban on the use of influencers because the wording of the draft bill allowed only licensed AMF firms to use influencers for advertising. Currently, no service provider in France’s digital asset industry has obtained licensing from the AMF.

France has two legal regimes for regulating digital assets, with the first being a framework for initial coin offering (ICO) and the second being the licensing of VASPs. Currently, France is pivoting its digital currency rules to comply with the incoming European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) rule.

“The current wording is more restrictive than the existing provisions in the Consumer Code since it excludes the possibility for digital asset service providers (PSAN) registered with the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) to use commercial influence,” said the Committee. “Consequently, this amendment introduces this possibility for PSANs registered or approved with the AMF.”

It is important to note that the proposal has not been given the force of law and will have to scale through several legislative hurdles and scrutiny from the national assembly. In the event that it scales through, French firms registered with the AMF will be allowed to hire the services of influencers to promote their services without the additional requirement of licensing.

The AMF disclosed in a statement that the next 18 months would see the fast-tracking of the registration of digital asset firms in the country. It added that it is joining forces with the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to publish guiding text to assist service providers in achieving compliance.

Neighboring UK building bridges

Across the channel, U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a checklist for influencers to follow in promoting digital currency products. The FCA collaborated with Love Island cast member Sharon Gaffka to draw attention to the risks of promoting fraudulent projects to the public.

The seven-point checklist urges celebrities to abstain from promoting digital assets as easy investment choices, stating that unlawful promotions could lead to two years in prison. In addition to the FCA, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is cracking down on defaulting ads in the ecosystem.

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