French financial markets ombudsman reports jump in crypto-related mediations

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), a non-governmental French stock market regulator, has observed that progress can have its downsides. According to the AMF ombudsman, there was a sharp increase in digital asset-related mediations and the number of registered digital asset service providers (DASPs) in 2022.

In its recently published 2022 annual report, the AMF ombudsman featured a section for the first time that was devoted to digital assets. It was noted that, although the total amount of cases dealt with by the ombudsman lessened from 1,964 in 2021 to 1,900 in 2022, appeals for mediation concerning digital assets increased from 44 to 54, with the amount of permissible cases escalating from six to seventeen. Concurrently, the number of documented DASPs rose from 28 to 59.

The French regulator AMF has only blacklisted two crypto websites in the course of the year.

The AMF ombudsman is only able to mediate cases where the DASP is either registered with the AMF or has obtained optional approval from the AMF, for example in the case of initial coin offerings. To provide custody for third parties, buy or sell digital assets for legal tender, trade digital assets for other digital assets, or run a digital assets trading platform in France, AMF registration is mandatory.

Obtaining an AMF license is necessary in order to “carry out digital asset services as part of a regular business activity.” At present, there are no authorized DASPs.

The ombudsman’s report indicated that the requirements for DASP registration will be made stricter in July, before being replaced by the European Union’s Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations in the following year.

The AMF ombudsman was careful to point out that it does not become involved in “scams,” which may be subject to regulations that apply to crypto assets or, when it comes to derivatives, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II). The ombudsman reported that misunderstandings of the terms of staking were a frequent problem it had to deal with.

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