Is the end of crypto-influencers in France soon?

A bill, held by two socialist MPs, aims to ban the promotion of cryptocurrencies by influencers. It will be reviewed in early February by the National Assembly.

A bill that cites major reality shows Loft Story and Star Academy probably hasn’t gone unnoticed by crypto-influencers. that PrOPOSAl “which aims to combat the excesses of social media influencers” was registered at the end of December in the National Assembly by Arthur Delaporte and Boris Vallaud, deputies of the Socialist group. The text aims to regulate the activity of influencers, who constitute a “new form of employee” in social networks.

The latter may be prohibited from publishing certain content on various topics, posted for a reward. “Content intended for sale is sometimes more problematic than promoting a simple lipstick,” the text underlines, which specifically mentions cryptocurrencies.

“A strong political message”

More specifically, the proposal aims to prohibit the promotion on social networks of “financial investments and digital assets that involve a risk of loss for the consumer”. Specifically, crypto-influencers will no longer be able to promote a posted crypto project with a reward. Showing in black and white that a post is sponsored will not be tolerated either. They will only be able to mention cryptocurrencies to popularize the ecosystem. Failure to comply with this bill will be punished with five years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros.

“There has been a lot of fraud, we had to send a strong political message, we have to stop with dangerous promotions that make consumers lose money,” MP Arthur Delaporte explained to BFM Crypto.

This text has been all the rage for a while, with many “watchdog groups” warning of scams by some crypto influencers. It is part of a special context today, with an unprecedented year 2022 for the crypto ecosystem. Indeed, many investors have suffered significant losses after the collapse of many crypto projects, such as luna or FTT (FTX platform crypto), which had been the subject of numerous promotions. A context that can give weight to this bill.

Text review in early February

Deputy Arthur Delaporte, relator of this bill, will present the text on February 1 to the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. The text will be voted by deputies in the semi-cycle on February 9. According to our information, some changes may be made to this text. If the draft law is approved by the deputies, then it will be voted on by the Senate. If both sides agree, the text could be announced by the end of the year. If so, it would be a blow to crypto-influencers.

“It’s a bit of a panic in the ecosystem because it’s also what allows projects to emerge and become known to the general public. For others, like me, it’s what allows me to provide content,” slips an actor at BFM Crypto.

Is this bill likely to succeed? Carried by the group of socialists will be subject to the scrutiny of the majority, while global reflections on the activity of influencers have emerged. Indeed, the first meetings will take place this month at Bercy, which has just launched a working group for influencers.

In addition, two other bills were presented at the end of the year to regulate the activity of influencers: one led by the deputy of Nupes, Aurélien Taché, the other by the deputy of Insoumis, François Picquemal. If the first bill does not mention cryptocurrencies, that of François Picquemal is very critical of bitcoin.

It was in the 2010s “that cryptocurrencies appeared, with bitcoin as a pioneer, which, with its dazzling success, became the object of increasingly important investments and speculations. It is in this context that the number of online frauds develops and multiplies “. can we read

While the bill is already in the hands of the deputies, where is the procedure in France? “So far the AMF has banned many things but done little, leaving the biggest mistakes in crypto Youtube unpunished,” says a crypto influencer with more than 50,000 subscribers. After verification, some crypto influencers promoting risky projects are still present on social networks. “You can publish nuanced content for educational purposes,” he explains. Not all crypto influencers should be lumped into the same bucket, however, with some popular and sympathetic to their community.

AMF must tighten the screw

AMF may also soon tighten the screw. In 2021, the Advertising Regulatory Authority (ARPP) implemented a “responsible impact certificate”, noting that “more than 1 in 4 content was not transparent to commercial cooperation”. This certificate is due to be extended through 2023. This certificate, which gives certain credibility to the influencers, will however in no way validate the content of the influencers. It will also not allow influencers to sell financial products to their customers.

Therefore, it is clear that it should be differentiated from the AMF certification, which allows a financial professional to be able to sell financial products to his clients. Despite the upcoming introduction of such a certificate, it is the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) which remains competent when it comes to sanctioning influencers in the case of derivatives.

Similarly, Article 80 of the European regulation MiCa (on the Market in crypto-assets) lists “behaviors” that will be considered market manipulation once the regulation enters into force, around 2024. Thus, crypto-influencers, who post numerous messages about cryptocurrencies (or cryptocurrency-related projects) every day seem to be in the sights of Europe.

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