France to Test Its Central Bank Digital Currency in Q1 2020: Official

The central bank of France plans to pilot a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for financial institutions in 2020. François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Bank of France, announced that the bank will start testing the digital euro project by the end of the first quarter 2020, French financial publication Les Echos reports Dec. 4.

The Bank of France confirmed the news on Twitter, noting that the announcement was made at a conference co-hosted by two major French financial regulators, the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority and the Autorité des marchés financiers.

Digital euro pilot won’t involve retail customers

According to the report, the digital euro pilot will only target private financial sector players and won’t involve retail payments made by individuals. Villeroy reportedly noted that a digital currency for retail customers would “be subject to special vigilance.”

As reported by Les Echos, the initiative intends to strengthen the efficiency of the French financial system, while ensuring trust in the currency.

Preventing Libra’s impact

Moreover, the project aims to assert France’s sovereignty over private digital currency initiatives like Facebook’s stablecoin Libra, Villeroy reportedly said.

Villeroy’s stance falls in line with previous statements by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who argued that regulators cannot allow the launch of Libra on European soil due to monetary sovereignty concerns.

According to some reports, France led the anti-Libra effort alongside Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Villeroy calls on France to become the first country in the world to issue a CBDC

According to a tweet by the Bank of France, its governor emphasized that France should become the first country in the world to issue a CBDC and provide an exemplary model to other jurisdictions. He stated:

“I see the interest in rapidly advancing the issuance of at least one central bank digital currency in order to be the leading issuer globally and get the benefits associated with providing an exemplary central bank digital currency.”

France has emerged as a major adopter of blockchain tech and Bitcoin

Meanwhile, France has appeared to be at the forefront of adopting crypto and blockchain technology as its government has initiated and encouraged a number of industry-related projects.

In late November 2019, the first deputy governor of the Bank of France called for a blockchain-based settlements and payments systems in Europe. As reported by Cointelegraph on Nov. 20, the French Armies and Gendarmerie’s Information and Public Relations Center was validating judicial expenses incurred during investigations on the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain at the time.

Alongside developments in blockchain, France has also emerged as a major adopter of biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC). In mid-October, French crypto startup Keplerk relaunched its service to accept Bitcoin payments in over 5,200 tobacco shops in France. Previously, Cointelegraph reported that at least 30 French retailers plan to launch Bitcoin payments support at over 25,000 sales points by early 2020.

Ethereum-Based Virtual Museum Tokenizes Censored Bitcoin Artwork

Bitcoin artist “Bnoiit.c” has created an Ethereum-based virtual museum “Cryptovoxels” that ensures censored artworks are immutably preserved for an online audience.

In its collection as of Aug. 25 has been a Bitcoin mural by French street artist Pascal “PBOY” Boyart, which was painted over by French authorities earlier this year. 

Revolutionary stirrings

Cryptovoxels’ site tells the story of the subversive mural —  a modern-day reworking of Eugène Delacroix’s classic revolutionary painting “La Liberté guidant le peuple” (Liberty Guiding the People).

The mural — created in honor of the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin’s Genesis Block — had recast the rebels who rose up against King Charles X in 1830 as contemporary “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vest) protestors. 

Conceived as a street art treasure hunt, it contained a puzzle with a 0.284 BTC bounty, which could be solved entirely only by finding — and being physically in front of — the mural.

It was painted over one month after its creation.

The mural has now been tokenized as a digital collectible — split into 100 ETH-based non-fungible tokens, which can be bought and sold via peer-to-peer digital collectibles marketplace OpenSea.

Users wishing to display their fragment of the mural need to buy ETH-based “land parcels” on Cryptovoxels — just as with artwork, these land parcels can also be bought and traded via OpenSea. 

Art and the blockchain

In 2018, Cointelegraph reported on the world’s purportedly first cryptocurrency art auction, in which fractional ownership of Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs was sold via the Maecenas blockchain platform.

Similarly to Boyart, artist Andy Bauch has produced puzzle-like crypto artworks containing abstract codes, which provide hints to retrieving the private keys to wallets containing thousands of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies.

In the spring of this year, blockchain-based art registry startup Artory raised over $7 million in Series A funding round from an early Spotify investor, among others.

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