PSAN and ICO: the PACTE law misses a new opportunity

The French Federation of Blockchain Professionals was created in March 2020 only and already includes major blockchain players in France. This federation aims to become the first French network of actors in this field by bringing together all the sectors of activity related to it and thus bringing the French vision of blockchain internationally. Beyond support for companies, the PACTE law aimed to establish a legal framework to regulate the implementation of financing operations in the field of blockchain technology. But that’s not all, the law was originally passed to better share the value created by companies with employees, which allows companies to better take into account social and environmental issues in their strategy.


The PSAN status, for Digital Asset Service Provider, provides guarantees to holders of digital assets. This status allows companies belonging to the blockchain field to be recognized as such. However, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has proved to be particularly restrictive on the issue of this status, despite the PACTE law supposed to facilitate it. The AMF refers to and even requests the application of consumer law with regard to financing operations of the Initial coin offering (ICO) type, a fundraising operation, which has several consequences. Among other things, through this approach, the AMF makes the application of the fourteen-day right of withdrawal particularly implementable within a smart contract, the “intelligent contracts” and computer equivalents of traditional contracts.

The French Blockchain Federation complains in particular about the delays in obtaining the VISA, which are totally unsuitable. The time taken to examine the file submitted with a view to granting the visa by the AMF for an ICO-type financing transaction initiated by a company established in France, which is supposed to be 20 working days, requires rather 3 to 6 months to obtaining it.

European directives within the process

For the French government, the difficulties in applying the PACTE law are due in particular to two European directives. The first is Directive 2002/65/EC, dealing with the distance selling of financial services and the second, 2011/83/EU deals with consumer rights. In order to apply the PACTE law effectively, it would therefore be wise to revise these directives. Still according to the Government, there are exemptions not specific to digital assets which could benefit certain activities relating precisely to these assets. But in this case too, there are two new constraints. The first announces that not all activities can be exempted without entailing a breach of European Union law. The second demonstrates that the additional exemptions should be introduced in the legislative part of the Consumer Code, which therefore requires a legal amendment.

The Government supports the AMF’s approach, which follows its desire to bring the VISA application to a successful conclusion. The latter defends itself by assuring that if the delays increase, it is to privilege the accompaniment of the applicants in order to constitute a robust file and to allow them to obtain the VISA directly rather than to note after twenty days the possible insufficiencies and to refuse the VISA. A careful approach, certainly, which does not fully satisfy blockchain professionals since there is the existence of interruption of deadlines when the AMF wishes to obtain additional information or modifications to the elements of the file. However, this recourse is not used by the AMF in the present case.

Professionals also fall back on the regulation concerning the crypto-asset markets (the MiCA regulation), able to protect ICO-type financing operations, capable of supervising the issuance of digital assets as soon as it is not not about stablecoins, stable cryptocurrencies. The PACTE law, although supposed to meet the demands of blockchain companies, only half satisfies the latter, who denounce a cruel lack of means to obtain statutes and financing.

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PSAN and ICO: the PACTE law misses a new opportunity

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