Key Takeaways

  • Danish bank bans employees from purchasing cryptocurrencies from anywhere other than its own bank
  • France to create its own digital currency for quarter one 2020 for institutional players
  • Fear over Libra and China’s upcoming digital currency are catalysts for France’s push into the space

France to Experiment With Digital Euro in 2020

France’s central bank plans to test a digital currency to be used by financial institutions as early as the first quarter of 2020. At a conference held by the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR) the governor of the Bank of France, François Villeroy de Galhau said, "We intend to start experimenting quickly and launch a call for projects (for private sector players) by the end of the first quarter of 2020.” 

France’s central banks confirmed the news on twitter saying that, while they would like to begin this experimentation it must be done “...in a serious and methodical manner.”

This new currency will be in the form of a digital Euro and will initially be for institutional players only and will not include retail customers. Central bank Governor Villeroy said that a digital currency for retail investors would have to be done with more vigilance. 

The central bank also expressed fears over Facebook’s (FB) Libra currency. Villeroy said that France’s new digital currency, “...would provide a powerful lever for asserting our sovereignty against private initiatives of the Libra type."

The Libra cryptocurrency is not the only currency pushing France into the digital currency space. The People’s Bank of China has been experimenting with its own digital blockchain form of currency since 2014. Mu Changchun, Deputy Chief in the Payment and Settlement Division of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said that the “People's Bank digital currency can now be said to be ready,” in reference to its new currency. 

The creation of these currencies by nations as well as private companies shows an acknowledgment that the future of the planet’s monetary system may not be settled in cash or via time-consuming bank transfers, but through blockchain.

Danish Bank Bans Its Employees From Purchasing Cryptocurrency

A Danish court has ruled that Nordea, a northern European bank, is permitted to ban its employees from purchasing cryptocurrencies.

The court case began when a financial industry union in Denmark said that such a ban enforced by a company upon its own employees would intrude in their personal lives. 

The chairman of the union, Kent Peterson, said, “We filed suit because of the principle that everyone obviously has a private life and the right to act as a private individual.” 

“It was important for us and our members to establish what rights managers have. In this case, it was more far-reaching than what we find to be appropriate,” Kent continued.

Nordea backed up its case by expressing concern over the lack of regulation and the connections between cryptocurrency and illegal activity. In 2018 Nordea had warned its employees against getting involved with cryptocurrency in an effort to distance themselves.

While Nordea has decided to ban its own employees from purchasing cryptocurrency, allegedly due to cryptos' involvement in laundering and other illegal activity, Nordea itself has been accused of laundering money.

RhythmTrader, a popular Bitcoin news twitter account called Nordea out in a tweet saying:

“Nordea Bank will stop their employees from investing in Bitcoin.

They told their staff that “the risks were too high”

This is coming from the same bank that was raided by police for allegedly laundering $793 million of Russian money.

A report from Reuters from March details information about leaked documents that show how Nordea had allegedly handled well over $700 million in questionable transactions ranging from 2005 and 2017 that were linked to Russia. A few months later Nordea’s offices were raided by the Danish state prosecutor for an investigation into money laundering.

The raid was in connection to an ongoing investigation for alleged money laundering. Nordea had set aside more than $100 million in provisions prior to the raid anticipating costs in the form of fines associated with money laundering.

While Nordea does not allow its employees to purchase cryptocurrency the bank says that they will allow employees to purchase cryptocurrency products as long as it comes from its bank. 

Their statement to employees reads “The prohibition to invest in cryptocurrencies does not include investments in financial instruments manufactured by Nordea linked to cryptocurrencies.”

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