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Central Banks Should Leave Crypto to Facebook and JPMorgan: PwC Partner

PwC France’s Pauline Adam Kalfon says central banks should stay away from crypto until it is “battle-tested” by corporations.

Central banks should leave issuance of digital currencies to corporations such as Facebook and JPMorgan, according to a blockchain and financial partner at PwC France, Forbes reports March 22.

According to PwC France’s Pauline Adam Kalfon, central banks should stay away from the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) until large corporations test out the tokenization of fiat currencies themselves.

Only when cryptocurrencies are “battle-tested by corporations,” should central banks make a move towards the crypto space, Kalfon argued, adding that it will reduce the likelihood of potentially negative consequences on the economy arising from any central bank issuing a digital currency.

Kalfon elaborated that France’s central bank, Banque de France, may not be the best entity to launch a digital currency project, explaining that the bank will be operating under the European Central Bank (ECB). She said:

“It is clear that a European-level project would be very complex and challenging governance-wise, requiring alignment and the political consensus of all relevant stakeholders from each Member State.”

In mid-February, JPMorgan announced plans to launch its own crypto, JPM Coin, to increase settlement efficiency. Following the news, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon stated that the company’s new cryptocurrency could have a consumer use one day.

Facebook was first rumored to develop its own crypto in December 2018, while The New York Times (NYT) released an article in late February alleging that the social media giant is developing a stablecoin that would incorporate Facebook’s three fully-owned apps — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

In January, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) reported that 70 percent of global central banks are exploring the benefits of CBDCs.

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French Cybersecurity Agency Grants Security Certificate to Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

The Ledger Nano S from French crypto hardware wallet firm Ledger has received a First Level Security Certificate.

The Ledger Nano S from French crypto hardware wallet firm Ledger has received a First Level Security Certificate (CPSN) from France’s national cybersecurity agency, ANSSI. The development was shared with Cointelegraph on March 18.

The National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI) reports to the Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security (SGDSN) in order to assist the French Prime Minister in matters of defence and national security. According to their list of certified products, 122 out of 261 products that ANSSI has started evaluating since June 1, 2018, have been certified.

Products aspiring to receive a CPSN certificate undergo a series of evaluations by an ANSSI lab, with testing for multiple attack scenarios that challenge the product’s security. Evaluations span “firewall, identification, authentication and access, secure communications, and embedded software.”

Claiming a crypto hardware wallet industry first, Ledger underscores the importance of receiving an independent third party certification to attest to the security of its offering, and says the CPSN for Ledger Nano S is the beginning of an overall effort to certify all of their products.

The blog post outlines that Ledger also operates its own in-house security evaluation “Attack Lab,” dubbed Ledger Donjon, which tests products’ resilience for a variety of threat scenarios.

The company has also reportedly developed a custom operating system, BOLOS (Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System), to couple software and hardware strategies that enhance security.  

According to the blog post, the CPSN certificate covers a gamut of core embedded security functions, including a true random number generator, which is created via hardware and then post-processed through BOLOS, in compliance with security guidelines established in France’s Security General Referential.

Other CPSN-certified security functions include a root of trust — which ensures that a given Nano S is authentically issued by Ledger — end-user verification measures, such as mandatory PIN numbers for accessing services, and post-issuance capability, which occurs over a secure channel.

As Cointelegraph reported last December, researchers have claimed they were able to hack the Ledger Nano S, as well as crypto hardware wallet Trezor One, and Ledger’s most expensive hardware wallet offering, the Ledger Blue. The day after the report, Ledger argued that the reported vulnerabilities in its hardware wallets were not critical.

This February, Ledger apologized for — and pledged to remedy —  issues with a recent firmware update for Nano S, which had inadvertently decreased the device’s storage capacity.

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French Court Clerks to Use IBM Blockchain Platform for Corporate Registry

French clerks of commercial courts will use a blockchain platform developed with IBM to record changes in companies’ legal status.

French commercial court clerks will use a blockchain-based platform to record changes in companies’ legal status within the country. The development was revealed in an official announcement on March 14.

The blockchain network was jointly developed by IBM and the National Council of Clerks (NCC) and will reportedly be deployed starting in 2019 by the clerks operating in commercial courts across France. The blockchain platform is built on the Hyperledger Fabric framework and aims to increase transparency and efficiency in legal transactions associated with the lifecycle of companies in the registry.

Specifically, the solution will be used to record and share data related to “the exchanges of regulatory information related to companies’ difficulties,” as well as “the changes of status of the company registered on the French territory.” That includes such data as change of corporate name, registration court office, establishment of branch offices, and business dissolution.

In a pilot, NCC reportedly managed to shorten the time needed to update the registry from several days to a single day. Vincent Fournier, Senior Manager Blockchain at IBM France, said that “blockchain’s qualities are ideal for this use, improving the Clerks’ business processes and adapting to the ever-changing nature of their missions.”

IBM has released various commercial blockchain products and filed a number of blockchain-related patents. Moreover, IBM reportedly offers the greatest number of blockchain jobs, according to recent research by The Next Web.

This week, IBM partnered with blockchain consortium and credit union service organization CULedger to develop new blockchain-based solutions for the credit union industry. These solutions can reportedly improve services such as digital identity authentication, Know Your Customer compliance, lending and payments services, and other consumer processes that require authentication.

Also this month, IBM revealed two new patents targeting network security using blockchain technology and focusing on database management using the tech.

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French Financial Regulator Proposes Ban on Anonymous Cryptocurrencies

A French financial regulator has proposed to ban privacy-focused cryptocurrencies.

The head of the Finance Committee of France’s National Assembly, Eric Woerth, is suggesting a ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies, or so-called privacy coins. Woerth expressed his position in a recent report on crypto assets and blockchain technology.

In a forward to the report, Woerth considers the introduction of a ban on digital currencies that provide greater anonymity to users, stating:

“It would also have been appropriate to propose a ban on the dissemination and trade in [cryptocurrencies built] to ensure complete anonymity by preventing any identification procedure by design. […] This is the case for a certain number of [cryptocurrencies] (Monero, PIVX, DeepOnion, Zcash…) whose purpose is to bypass any possibility of identifying the holders. To date, regulation has not gone that far.”

Apart from that, Woerth addresses possible problems associated with cryptocurrencies, including fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and energy consumption. “The distinction between the different uses of [cryptocurrencies] must continue, to establish a finer and more precise regulation protector of the general interest, as well as the private interest of the entrepreneurs of this domain,” the president purportedly added.

In April of last year, Japanese regulators suggested similar measures by preventing cryptocurrency exchanges from trading anonymity-oriented altcoins Dash (DASH) and Monero. “It should be seriously discussed as to whether any registered cryptocurrency exchange should be allowed to use such currencies,” said an unnamed member of the country’s regulator the Financial Services Authority.

Last December, the lower house of the French parliament rejected amendments to the 2019 finance bill which would ease crypto-related taxation. The parliament rejected four proposals in total, where one of the amendments proposed to increase the annual volume of transactions that falls under tax exemption from 305 euro (around $341) to 3,000 euro ($3,359), or even 5,000 euro ($5,599).

In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would like France to become a “startup nation,” France’s overall stance towards digital currencies remains vague. In November of last year, the country’s central bank refused to endorse a plan that would allow thousands of tobacco kiosks to sell Bitcoin (BTC) starting in January 2019.

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Credit Agricole-Backed Blockchain Startup Setl Files for Insolvency in the UK

Setl, a Credit Agricole-backed blockchain startup based out of the United Kingdom, has filed for insolvency.

Setl, a Credit Agricole-backed blockchain startup based out of the United Kingdom, has filed for insolvency. The insolvency notice was filed on March 7 with U.K. authorities.

Credit Agricole is reportedly the world’s largest cooperative financial institution, headquartered in France.

Setl was founded by Peter Randall, one of the founders and former CEO of the alternative European stock exchange Chi-X, and Anthony Culligan, founder of peer-to-peer Bitcoin (BTC) trading venue Roolo, in July 2015. The company was granted approval from the French securities regulator to run a Central Securities Depository (CSD) in October last year.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, Setl has hired former governor of the French central bank Christian Noyer as a member of its board of directors. Still, in a statement released today, the company “recognises that as an early stage technology firm it is not sufficiently placed to contribute the capital required.”

In the same statement, the company also notes that now that the CSD is operational, Setl can move forward and “is now now [sic] seeking to place its ID2S [regulated CSD platform] holding with a larger financial services firm, one better placed to provide the capital required to support the growth trajectory.” Per the announcement, the company also appointed an independent administrator in the form of business advisory firm Quantuma.

According to Crunchbase data, Setl has obtained $39 million of funding in three rounds, the last of which ended on Feb. 1, 2018.

Some in the industry are still optimistic about blockchain’s use in traditional finance despite the current crypto bear market. For instance, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Bitcoin bulls and founders of the cryptocurrency trading platform Gemini, have recently said stablecoins and tokenized securities will usher in a bright future for the digital currency space.

Development by major financial institutions in the space is ongoing, with global financial messaging network the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), currently carrying out a blockchain-based shareholder e-voting proof-of-concept with major financial institutions.

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France’s Main Trade Seaport Joins Blockchain Pilot for Freight Logistics: Report

France’s largest port, Marseille Fos Port, has joined a blockchain pilot for freight transport on the Mediterranean-Rhône-Saône axis.

The main trade seaport of France, Marseille Fos Port, will participate in a blockchain pilot for freight logistics in June 2019, local industry news outlet PortSEurope reports on March 6.

The project aims to use blockchain technology for supply chain logistics and intermodal freight forwarding on the Mediterranean-Rhône-Saône axis (MeRS) transport corridor.

According to the report, the blockchain initiative is supported French authority, the Interministerial Delegation for the development of the port and logistics for MeRS. The project is also reportedly backed and supported financially by the French public sector financial institution Caisse des Dépôts, navigation authority Voies navigables de France and electricity generation firm the Compagnie National Rhone.

The initiative intends to conduct a pilot to examine blockchain’s capability to boost the efficiency of data management on the digital transport chain. Specifically, the pilot is aiming to bring increased security to data sharing directly between the parties involved in port logistics.

The pilot is reportedly developed by three firms focused on logistics, supply chain and blockchain technology, namely Marseille Gyptis International, BuyCo and KeeeX.

Marseille Fos Port, or Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, is known as the second largest Mediterranean port and the fourth largest port in Europe.

The French port has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment by press time.

Recently, Russian shipping transport firm Infotech Baltika announced the development of a blockchain-enabled system for handling port operations.

Also in Russia, the Ministry of Transport is reportedly planning to trial blockchain shipping solution TradeLens, which was developed by IBM and Maersk.

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Retail Giant Carrefour Applies Blockchain for Tracking Milk Product Supply Chain

French retail giant Carrefour has continued blockchain development by using DLT for tracking micro-filtered full-fat milk.

French retail giant Carrefour has continued blockchain development by applying the technology for tracking milk, according to a press release published on March 1.

Starting from March, the retail giant is gradually rolling out its new blockchain-powered product, Carrefour Quality Line (CQL) micro-filtered full-fat milk. CQL is touted to guarantee consumers complete product traceability across the entire supply chain — from farmers to the store shelves.

With CQL, consumers will be able to see the GPS coordinates of farmers whose animals’ milk was collected, get information about when the milk was collected and packaged, as well as find out about various stakeholders involved in the product line.

Carrefour’s new product has followed a number of previous blockchain implementations by the major global food retailer. In November 2018, Carrefour launched a food tracking solution powered by Hyperledger to track free-range chickens branded as “Calidad y Origen” in Spain.

Previously, the retail giant had joined IBM’s blockchain-enabled food tracking network called Foot Trust, following major food producers such as Nestle, Dole Food, Golden State Foods and others.

In late 2018, another French retail group, Auchan, expanded TE-FOOD’s FoodChain solution to five more countries after a 18-month test of TE-FOOD’s blockchain tool in Vietnam. The blockchain product, which enables retail monitoring system for tracking for selected product categories, became available in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Senegal.

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French Financial Regulator Blacklists Four Crypto Websites for Unauthorized Offerings

French stock market regulator AMF blacklisted four crypto-related websites for unauthorized investment offerings.

The French stock market watchdog, the Financial Markets Regulator (AMF), has blacklisted four crypto-related websites for unauthorized investment offerings, according to an official statement published Friday, Dec. 14.

The AMF announcement notes nine companies that are allegedly operating without necessary regulatory approval, including four crypto-related firms.

In the announcement, the stock market regulator warns investors about the increasing number of unregistered investment projects, claiming that “new unauthorized actors appear regularly.”

The recent blacklist includes such crypto-related websites as iminage.com, elos-patrimoine.com, infoconso.info, and live-crypto.com.net. Elos-patrimoine claims to offer “risk-free” crypto investments, promising “professional support” powered by a “long experience in all areas of investment.” Introducing itself as a “manager of European heritage for 15 years,” the Elos-patrimoine purported to guarantee monthly minimum returns of 3-5 percent.

The other websites blacklisted by the AMF included four businesses relating to the wine industry, and one website offering investments in diamonds.

The AMF is an independent public institution that is responsible for protecting investors and maintaining orderly financial markets. In late November, the AMF participated in a joint initiative with France’s central bank to warn the public about the risks associated with the “speculative” nature of crypto assets.

Earlier in November, the AMF released a report claiming that the initial coin offering (ICO) industry in the country represents a small part of the overall global ICO market. According to the study, the global ICO market accrued 19.4 billion euros ($21.8 billion) since 2014, wherein France accounted for 89 million euros ($100 million) raised in 15 ICO projects.