Thanks to Blockchain Technology, the Entrepreneurial Spirit in France Has Never Been Stronger
Attitudes around risk and failure are changing, as are government policies.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Europe, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
If you were to visit France just a few years ago to explore the startup environment, sadly, you would have been pretty disappointed. However, if you were to come back today, you would be filled with surprise to learn just how much the landscape has changed.
Related: Why You Need to Be Paying Attention to the French Tech Scene
Although France isn't currently considered the main hub for blockchain innovation in Europe, it is certainly one of the fastest growing, as I can personally attest.
Historically and culturally in France, failure was never embraced.
In the U.S., entrepreneurs who fail to build successful businesses are perceived as bold, knowledgeable and ambitious, just from having attempted the journey. They learn valuable lessons from their experiences, lessons that can be applied to future endeavors that can heighten their possibilities of success. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have failed several times before they got their first taste of success.
In French culture, failure has historically been associated with shame, and entrepreneurs are often very reluctant, if not terrified, to take that pivotal leap of faith to initiate their journey. In their defense, startups have a very low success rate, which can lead to a decline in the emergence of new startups.
French business owners believe that if they fail, that can potentially mean the end of their career, as no investor will trust this "failure of an entrepreneur" with his or her money ever again. The French government did not make the situation any easier either, because to bankruptcy usually meant that you would never be able to own anything of value ever again, or at least for a very long time.
Related: We Need to Change How We Think About Failure in Europe
Luckily, mindsets have been changing over time.
The perception of failure in French society has recently shifted and we are seeing a sharp spike in the amount of startups that are springing to life, especially those that are exploring blockchain technology innovations. This stems from some of the new French laws that President Macron has put in place to lift the French entrepreneurial spirit.
This major change is due to the French government shifting its stance on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to one of support and optimism. It envisions a future that inevitably involves blockchain technology handling various processes of our daily lives, and it wants to become one of the countries leading the charge.
In fact, the French government is allegedly taking steps to work on a legislative framework for initial coin offerings, or ICOs (the first of its kind) and has even slashed the cryptocurrency tax rate. Earlier this month, Chain Accelerator -- the leading blockchain startup accelerator in the EU -- launched in Station F in Paris. Progress is happening right before our very eyes.
Related: Switzerland's 'Crypto Valley' Presents Real Opportunities for Blockchain Entrepreneurs
French policy concerning blockchain technology is evolving.
Starting in 2016, President Macron, former Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital, began to pave the way for the use of blockchain technology for crowdfunding.
"We are going to take advantage of the Financial Regulation Ordinance, which is responsible for updating cash certificates and creating mini-cash, to experiment on the blockchain," Macron said.
However, for such an experiment to be possible, it will be necessary to modify some components such as the central depository that has been established for listed securities. Cash vouchers will serve as backing for the blockchain. If successful, the government could extend the scope of this blockchain to unlisted securities "to promote the emergence of a stock market for small and medium enterprises" and potentially on listed stock exchanges, such as the Paris Bourse.
"This is a first in Europe," Macron said. The Cabinet adopted an ordinance in 2017 that facilitates the transfer of ownership of certain financial securities using blockchain storage and information technology, functioning as a large decentralized digital registry (distributed ledger technology or DLT), reputed to be unfalsifiable.
This order clarifies the terms and conditions for payment of dematerialized financial securities via a "shared electronic recording device." thus securing the use of blockchain for the transmission of non-electronic securities.
The order is expected to come into effect no later than July 2018.
"The use of this technology will allow fintech and other financial players to offer new solutions for securities trading -- faster, cheaper, more transparent and more secure solutions," said the French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire.
Related: Which European Countries Are Best for Cryptocurrency Startups?
Blockchain has helped entrepreneurship gain traction.
Unlike some of my colleagues, I have always associated risk with opportunity. That is why in 2009, after completing my master degree, I started what became DOZ.com, a digital marketing software and marketplace.
Now with the emergence of blockchain technology and ICOs, many French individuals are starting to take their owns leaps of faith into starting their own businesses or working for startups that they believe in. It is actually quite dramatic how quickly these changes have taken place, as I believe this movement started gaining traction just one year ago, maybe even less.
At the beginning of this year, I co-founded the blockchain startup Varanida, a solution to some of the deficiencies that currently exist in the digital advertising industry. Given my background and experience in the digital advertising industry, I can almost state with certainty that with a growing digital economy, a blockchain-based advertising model will become the norm for digital marketing.
Although we, the French, have always considered ourselves a very ambitious people, a new sense of boldness and entrepreneurial spirit is flooding the streets that I grew up in, and I'm glad to not only be a witness, but also a pioneer.