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Monitoring Bitcoin: In France, The First Officially Recognized Bitcoin Bank

photo of Jon Holmquist

Jon Holmquist
8th December 2012

Text by Sepp Hasslberger:

According to a post in the Bitcoin Forum, titled

Bitcoin-Central, first exchange licensed to operate as a bank. This is HUGE

Bitcoin-Central (bitcoin-central.net/) “is getting, through a partnership with Aqoba and the Credit Mutuel, allowed to operate as a bank, (or more precisely a PSP which is basically the same as a bank, just without the debt-money issuing part).”

The feat was achieved by Paymium, a ‘Money over IP’ Bitcoin transfer agency with connections to the French banking regulators. How? Here is the forum post which gives some more detail.

At Paymium we spent lots of time and energy talking about Bitcoin to our regulating bodies, the Banque de France, the ACP (French equivalent of the American SEC), TRACFIN (AML French supervising body) etc. We engaged all these resources with one goal in mind : get these people to know Bitcoin, advocate our beloved crypto-currency and listen to them, help them think until they finally reach the same conclusion as we did : there’s nothing wrong with people being free.

There’s nothing wrong with people freely exchanging value, we don’t hurt anybody, we’re not forcing anyone to use Bitcoin, we simply want to see our dream and the future of money become a reality.

After all this patient work and lobbying we’re finally happy and proud to announce that Bitcoin-Central.net becomes today the first Bitcoin exchange operating within the framework of European regulations. Since 2010 we kept learning, when mtgox got kicked out of France for not complying with the law we learnt from it, when our banks gave us a hard time we learnt from it, when we discussed with smart people on these very forums we learnt from it.

From monitoring the regulatory field we learned that TRACFIN knew about Bitcoin, that the ECB knew about Bitcoin. And that they were both worried.

So we felt that if no one went there, and told these people about Bitcoin, they would come to us anyway.

We’re therefore extremely proud and happy to announce that Bitcoin-Central.net will be raising the bar for all the other exchanges, at least the ones operating in Europe.

We’re announcing today that Bitcoin-Central.net is getting, through a partnership with Aqoba and the Credit Mutuel, allowed to operate as a bank, (or more precisely a PSP which is basically the same as a bank, just without the debt-money issuing part).

More at Bitcoin-Central, first exchange licensed to operate as a bank. This is HUGE


One Response to “Monitoring Bitcoin: In France, The First Officially Recognized Bitcoin Bank”

  1. Michel Bauwens Says:

    Here is an update with clarifications from the Paymium people:

    “”There seems to be some confusion about our recent announcement of a partnership with Aqoba allowing us to hold Euro balances legally. There has been an overwhelming response to this development, unfortunately some of the information quoted by journalists is factually incorrect.

    This shall serve as a clarification.

    In short, Paymium is neither a bank, nor a PSP. And it doesn’t need to be.

    Paymium, the company behind Bitcoin-Central has partnered with Aqoba, which is a registered PSP. The Crédit Mutuel Arkéa bank (not to be confused with the Crédit Mutuel bank) is the bank that Aqoba is associated with to provide the financial infrastructure a PSP needs.

    This allows Aqoba to keep funds on behalf of third-parties in payment accounts (“comptes de paiement”) which are different from bank accounts (“comptes de dépôt”). The difference between these is that funds deposited on a payment account may not be used for investments or loaned out. Additionnaly, these accounts have no overdraft capabilities.

    These accounts will soon get their own IBAN number, be able to be associated with a debit card, but remain distinct from what is legally referred to as a “bank account”.

    In short :

    Crédit Mutuel Arkéa is the bank that is used by Aqoba for its financial infrastructure needs,
    Aqoba is a registered PSP,
    Paymium works with Aqoba in order to operate as an intermediary when individuals and corporations wish to engage in the exchange of Bitcoins,
    The “Garantie des dépôts” mechanism (which resembles the FDIC) covers our clients against a collapse of the Crédit Mutuel Arkéa bank.

    Funds deposited with us will still remain clearly separated from Paymium’s funds.

    It is still a big development for a Bitcoin exchange to be able to operate legally within the European regulatory framework. Bitcoin-Central is leading the way in this respect. But we’re neither a bank, nor a PSP. And we intend to keep it that way.”

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