As China puts the finishing touches on its digital yuan, and the US actively works to do the same for the dollar, the European Central Bank is taking its time. Its dematerialized euro should not see the light of day before 2025. Without waiting, start-up Angular Labs got into it last November by launching a “stablecoin” based on the euro and blockchain. The two founders of the Polytechnic and Stanford University, Pablo Verrat and Guillaume Nerfvo, immediately attracted attention, raising 5 million euros from international venture capital funds.
A stablecoin, for the uninitiated, is a digital counterpart of an existing currency and whose value is guaranteed, regardless of exchange rate changes. In other words, it is a stable cryptocurrency, based on underlying physical assets. This financial product illustrates the proliferation of French enterprises commonly referred to as fintech. “It’s crowded! Many companies are being created at the moment but are still under the radar, explains Frédéric Montagnon, one of the French pioneers of blockchain. We have a very strong competitive advantage with our engineers, who are very good at math and finance. Who yesterday in New York, Those who left for London or Hong Kong are now setting up their own projects.”
A revolution is underway that we are still struggling to fully measure. Because behind the concept of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, NFT (Non-Fungible Token) or Web 3, a new Internet philosophy is being born. A decentralized and open source network (free to access platforms and technologies) where users, individuals and companies regain control of their data.
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“Philosophy is the transformation of the common good that was captured by Gaffam”, continued Frédéric Mangagnon. An example: Today, a Facebook account holder cannot retrieve data to transfer his followers to another platform. Facebook protects this treasure. In Web 3, by contrast, everyone owns their data. Perhaps, this revolution heralded the downfall of the first social network that, by changing its name (now Meta) wanted to send a reassuring message to the markets.
There are also serious concerns in the world of banking and insurance. Blockchain makes it possible to conduct many banking services without intermediaries (Visa cards, banks) in an instant and secure way. In the US, the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange created ten years ago already has a market capitalization of 33 billion euros. First Bank of Euro Zone, Bicentenary of BNP Parishad, Price 58.
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In France, it is Unicorn Ledger, worth 1.5 billion, which is the leader of this new money. Created in 2014, it designs and manages crypto-asset portfolios for individuals and about a hundred companies… 85% overseas. Its flagship product, the Ledger Nano, which sells millions of units each year, lets you store your assets on a sort of ultra-secure USB key. Cryptoasset capitalization is estimated to be around $2 trillion, suggesting significant potential for the ledger that secures 15% of all cryptocurrencies in the world. “The growth spurt in front of us is unprecedented, CEO Pascal Gauthier confided to us. We are at a moment like 1998, when the number of Internet users was only 300 million.”
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Among the rising stocks is Coinhouse, which exited Ledger in 2017. Initially a cryptocurrency broker, he has since created a crypto savings account and is making payments. Its boss Nicolas Louvet’s ambition: to be the first European cryptobank. Another nugget, Parisian start-up Caico, described as the “Bloomberg of crypto”, does 50% of its business in the US. It provides real-time crypto price and exchange rate indicators from billions of transactions made daily. “Blockchain will serve the industrial applications of tomorrow’s finance, I am very confident”, explains founder Ambre Soubiran, former specialist in derivatives at HSBC.
It will not deny Bpifrance. “We have financed about 150 start-ups in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrency through our traditional loans, grants or innovative competition methods, and we plan to strengthen this support”, said Ivan de Lastores, in charge of blockchain at the public bank.
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Finance is not the only related sector. With NFTs, this authentication tool is based on blockchain, all brands are destined to use these tools. For example, the conviction of Pierre Nicolas Herstel, co-founder of Ariane, a start-up that created a platform for the luxury and fashion industry in partnership with Richemont, B&W and Thierry Mugler.
The intelligence? Enable brands to regain control of the counterfeit or second-hand market, through proof of authenticity and ownership of their products. It is impossible to resell a Breitling watch without an NFT certificate that you own. This digital passport is also intended to certify completely virtual creations. Finally, with this NFT, brands can establish a direct dialogue with their holders, freeing themselves from Google and others. It is hoped that regulators and politicians will understand the issues. “The environment is not reassuring”, lamented Frédéric Montagnon.