French Tobacco Shops Want to Sell Bitcoin — Regulators Aren’t Happy
CCN is expanding. Are you our next full-time journalist from the West Coast USA? Send us your CV and examples here.The French version of the SEC, the Autorité des marchés financiers, along with the Banque de France issued a statement Monday regarding the intentions of KeplerK, a company which was previously reported to have gotten approval and is planning to partner with tobacco shop operators to sell Bitcoin in their stores across the country. It seems French bureaucracy can be even more confusing than its American counterpart, as initial reports stated that regulators had tacitly agreed to the plan.
However, the French regulators’ Monday statement was unequivocal:
“Its distribution by a public limited company, PAYSAFEBIT SASU with a capital of 50000 euros, using the trade name KEPLERK, which does not have any authorization or approval by a French or foreign authority, is not likely to provide any guarantee to the customer base.”
Their apparent concern is that Paysafebit/KeplerK will not have the liquidity to cover exchanges. Not that this makes any sense – there are plenty of ways it can be done that will ensure that customers are delivered their BTC. Or is the concern that the company doesn’t have a lot of money in the event that customers wish to sue? The statement doesn’t say. It simply talks about the risks of dealing in cryptocurrencies, while not announcing any enforcement actions against the firm, or attempts to nix the plans.
KeplerK Still Seems to be Moving Ahead
At time of writing, KeplerK’s website did not reflect any loss of traction in their plan. The firm offers a Coinbase-like app in addition to its in-person exchanges. The process is simple enough: the user cashes into the exchange with actual Euros or presumably even a debit or credit card at the merchant and is then issued a ticket they can redeem on the KeplerK app or website. Their app is in both major app stores.
Nevertheless, the AMF believes that people may have confused KeplerK with another company called Kepler Cheuvreux, which is an independent financial services firm that is fully regulated. It’s unclear at time of writing what will become of KeplerK or its plans to sell retail Bitcoin.
The AMF had previously blacklisted a number of cryptocurrency investment websites. Such moves run counter to a parliamentary push in the country which aims to see France as a hub of both blockchain development and ICOs. The future seems bright one day, dark the next.
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