This day when Europe almost abandoned Bitcoin in the United States

Several months should pass before a final agreement and entry into force of the European crypto regulations. (Photo: 123RF)

LES KEYS DE LA CRYPTO is a section that patiently decodes the world of cryptocurrency and its stock market, industrial and media turmoil. François Remy’s mission is to identify promising entrepreneurs, decode technical progress and anticipate the industrial and societal impacts of this digital currency.

(Illustration: Camille Charbonneau)

That day is today. Incredible but true. It took little to prevent the European Parliament from adopting regulations that would have banned the most famous cryptocurrency of the old continent. To the great satisfaction of our southern neighbors whose president has mobilized his entire administration to seize the technological, industrial and monetary opportunity of cryptos.

First of all, let’s be on the safe side. The United States was not waiting for the generosity of the European Union to develop any dominance in the crypto asset market. From blockchain infrastructure providers to exchanges, custody services and NFT marketplaces, US-headquartered companies hold the upper hand.

In addition, the political vision in terms of digital currencies seems to have evolved considerably beyond our borders. The previous President of the United States had accustomed us to only a few uninspired tweets about how he was “not a fan of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are not money”. The current tenant of the White House, for his part, shows all other considerations. Joe Biden has also unveiled a much less improvised strategy by signing a decree last week aimed at the “sustainable development of digital assets”.

Quite a symbol. President Biden who is betting on crypto to defend the predominance of the dollar over the global financial system, to identify the societal issues linked to this famous decentralized finance, to ensure the technological leadership of the first economic power on the planet. In reality, this decree does not bring any real concrete changes at the time of writing these lines. The political intervention is more like a big order placed with all the federal agencies in order to finally understand what we are talking about when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Against this geopolitical backdrop, now imagine a market of 500 million consumers closing its doors to bitcoin. This is precisely what the young crypto ecosystem almost experienced as an industrial nightmare on Monday March 14 in Europe.

It took very little for European lawmakers to write a new chapter of GAFAM, but this time about crypto assets. Seven wise parliamentarians. This is the very small difference that currently allows Bitcoin and Ethereum not to be banned from the European Union.

Indeed, 30 deputies of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs voted this Monday against “scandalous amendments of technical ignorance”, to use the words of crypto entrepreneurs in France.

These amendments to the so-called MiCA (for Markets in Crypto-Assets) regulations condemned the consensus protocol of the two main blockchains arbitrarily deemed “unsustainable”. 23 parliamentarians supported them at the risk, as the crypto community strongly warned, of signing the death warrant for the bitcoin industry on the old continent. And thereby, a whole section of the Union’s industrial competitiveness.

Fortunately, in a flash of lucidity, the draft MiCA regulation is now moving to trialogue, a formal round of negotiations between the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. Several months should pass before a final agreement and entry into force of the European crypto regulations.

The political groups that would like to bring this ban on bitcoin back to the negotiating table still have procedures allowing them to parachute everything into the plenary session of the European Parliament. But we can hope that European decision-makers, who are nevertheless seeking to reduce their dependence on American payment systems, do not abandon this powerful financial means that cryptocurrencies clearly constitute.


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