The world’s largest crypto alternate Binance is making an attempt to woo France

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A representation of the cryptocurrency Binance can be seen in this illustration from August 6, 2021.

Given Ruvic | Reuters

Crypto giant Binance is stepping up its presence in France after a troubled year of regulatory scrutiny.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is funding a € 100 million ($ 113 million) initiative with industry group France FinTech to support the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector in France.

The initiative announced in November, called Objective Moon, sees Binance set up a research and development office in France and collaborate on a start-up incubator program and training programs.

“The goal of Objective Moon is really to develop an ecosystem and to maintain and accelerate an ecosystem. You can’t do it alone, “Binance’s French GM David Princay told CNBC.

“We also need to be able to attract the talent and have more opportunities to grow bigger,” he said of the plans to open an R&D office. “Having an R&D center is a step we need to take for our next development.”

Ledger, the French crypto hardware company valued at $ 1.5 billion recently, and edtech company OpenClassroom are also involved in developing educational programs on Objective Moon.

France could prove fertile ground for the initiative given its growing fintech scene. Fintech investments in France have soared this year with record rounds of funding for companies like Lydia and Qonto, according to Dealroom figures.

Regulatory compliance

Binance has had a turbulent year in its relationships with regulators around the world. His headaches included a ban by the UK Financial Conduct Authority and an investigation by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The company has also ceased trading of its digital stock tokens, most recently closing its trading platform in Singapore.

Although its roots are in China, Binance was notoriously shy of committing itself to a specific location and leaned on the decentralization maxims of the crypto industry.

However, Binance recently changed its tone on this, as CEO Changpeng Zhao spoke out in favor of regulation and willingness to work with regulators, while also expressing interest in France as the official base of operations.

Princay was unsure whether the company’s significant investment in France was a precursor to the establishment of its official headquarters there; “We don’t have anything to add to that yet,” he said.

However, the company’s movements in the country have not gone unnoticed by watch dogs. Last month, the governor of France’s central bank said Binance must have tight anti-money laundering controls in place if it is to build operations in the country.

Meanwhile, France’s digital minister Cedric O was present with Binance and France FinTech at the announcement of Objective Moon.

“Cedric O made it very clear to us that they are welcome to see and have us, but they are also very demanding and that’s for the better,” Princay told CNBC. He added that Binance was in talks with regulators in France about licensing.

“This is a very positive sign of innovation,” he said of the regulation of crypto in France and Europe in general. “We need to be fully tested and tested to pass and that is for the better because if we pass it will be a sign of trust and compliance.”

“Our goal is to be 100% compliant in every activity and in every country we operate in.”

Read more about cryptocurrencies from CNBC Pro

Regulation is often catching up with cryptocurrency companies. At the European level, the next big challenge for the industry will be the regulation of the EU markets for crypto assets (MiCA).

MiCA, recently approved by the European Council, will introduce greater investor protection and expand licensing and passporting for crypto firms in the block. It is to be discussed in the European Parliament in the coming months.

Spread awareness

Ariel Wengroff is the editor-in-chief at Ledger and leads the company’s educational content efforts.

She told CNBC that Ledger signed the initiative with Binance to raise awareness of crypto, blockchain and Web3 – a broad concept of decentralized web services based on blockchain technologies – in its home market. She said the provision of educational programs was “for the good of the industry” as it has evolved much faster than traditional curricula.

“We’re still in a state of mainstream curiosity and if we want to achieve mainstream adoption and give people the education they deserve – for a safe, seamless, and open source future – then we need to come together as a company to provide this now, “she said.

“Education in web3 should not be isolated or held against each other, but should be open to everyone who wants to get to know this space.”

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