Bill No.1009 passed Monaco’s National Council on Tuesday 16 June, marking a new cryptoasset era for the tiny EU country.
In short, the law establishes a legal framework for raising funds through ICOs. Two key points underpin the bill: to ensure protection for investors and enforce the rule that cryptoasset companies register with financial watchdogs to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The principality on the French Rivieira has long been a low-tax attraction and historically the playground of the rich and famous. Monaco scrapped income taxes in 1869 and here, the government does not collect capital gains tax, nor are there any property taxes.
But the independent microstate is now showing promising innovation in other areas of business.
In May 2019 monarch Prince Albert II rolled out ‘Extended Monaco’, a state-level programme that includes becoming the first state in Europe to install a country-wide 5G mobile data network, coding lessons for children starting at nursery school and crucially, legitimising funding for crypto projects.
Making ICOs one of the key pillars of this digital transformation plan is central to the idea that Monaco could become a new crypto paradise in Europe.
It hasn’t really happened for scandal-hit Malta, the original proponent of the ‘Blockchain Island’ fantasy whose government unveiled Binance with a flourish but revealed a year later that the cryptoexchange was not even registered with financial regulators.
An earlier bill put before the Monaco National Council, Blockchain Technology No 995, set the groundwork, but bill 1009 “was built with a refined ambition,” according to domestic politicians.
This new bill heavily encourages new ICO applications but emphasises a key point that 2017’s mostly-disastrous fundraises did not.
As Monaco Secretary General Philippe Mouly said, the government realised in debating the bill that “the lack of real guarantee offered to token subscribers is a source of concern that could ultimately threaten the development of these operations.”
ICOs have had a difficult life after showing so much early promise. This funding method for token-based projects was part of the rocket fuel adding to the fire of Bitcoin’s initial 2017 bull run. But the lack of clear and adequate regulation — or strict boundaries of any kind — made them a bad joke.
Any scheme, no matter how wacky or impractical, seemed to raise millions of dollars of funding. In more recent times they have become the target of high-profile financial regulator investigations: the SEC’s brutal takedown of Telegram’s $1.7bn ICO probably the best known of the lot.
But melding the kind of financial firepower available in Monaco with new and rapidly growing applications like DeFi make for a potentially mouthwatering combination. Especially when avoiding the mistakes of the past to truly think long-term.
The price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency has breached the psychologically important resistance of $10,000 a few times in 2020, but has never been able to hold that level — until now.
With Bitcoin at multi-year highs north of $11,000 as macro factors play in its favour — rampant inflationary money-printing by central banks, states facing down historic recessions in fiat currency and record GDP contraction in the United States, for example — the introduction of legitimate fundraising in places like Monaco could spark a new crypto project financing revolution.
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