French Financial Watchdog Approves First ICO Under New ‘Visa’ Scheme


France's Financial Markets Authority (AMF) announced Thursday it had approved an initial coin offering (ICO) for the first time.
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The successful recipient of the AMF "ICO visa" – a cryptocurrency fundraising platform called French-ICO – met the minimum guarantees required by law, including a white paper investors could understand, according to a statement from the regulator.
ICO visas are a means to ensure sales do not bring investors undue risk. Applicants must show the AMF they have provided all relevant information about the sale, as well as the risks involved. Approval is not an endorsement for the company.
The regulator can only approve public offerings for utility tokens, and an applicant must be a registered entity in France. They must also have procedures for securing investor funds and comply with strict anti-money laundering (AML) requirements. Once approved, the ICO must take place within six months.
France passed one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks for cryptocurrencies earlier this year. Known as the PACTE law, it provides companies legal certainty in return for being regulated by the AMF. That includes a guaranteed bank account, as well as the option to host a token sale in the country using the ICO visa.
AMF approval further allows a company to market its sale and engage in promotional activities.
Registration is optional, however. Companies can still host an unregistered ICO in France but they are not allowed to promote the sale to potential investors.
Reuters reported in July that the watchdog was talking to three or four candidates for an ICO visa.
Although the news was announced Thursday, French-ICO received its visa on Tuesday. Scheduled to begin in March, the sale is capped at €1 million ($1.1 million), according to its website. The visa runs out on June 1, 2020.
The AMF has come down hard on crypto companies that have broken French law. The watchdog previously banned advertisements for cryptocurrency derivatives and, in March, blacklisted 15 cryptocurrency websites that it considered had unlawfully guaranteed high returns on investments.

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