Bank Accounts: Why Bercy’s Oversight Will Strengthens the Crypto Ecosystem

Bercy asked to have access to certain bank data of the French. Although the request was denied, it violates privacy. What crypto industry players are pointing to.

Last Friday, several players in the crypto ecosystem tweeted “Buy Bitcoin” following the controversy surrounding Bercy’s request for access to certain bank account customer data.

Indeed, the Directorate General of Public Finances (DGFiP) requested access to the balance of accounts and the fact of knowing whether the bank accounts of French people are active or not, a request which was rejected by the Interministerial Directorate for Digital ( Dinum). This was a request made as part of a modernization of the bank account file (Ficoba), created in 1971 and which lists the names associated with all the bank accounts of French banks as well as the names associated with the safe-deposit boxes. strong. This file is accessible to the tax administration, to social security, or even to justice.

With Tech&Co, the Directorate General of Public Finances (DGFiP) initially assured that the project was no longer on the agenda for the time being. “It goes without saying that all the necessary legal consultations will be carried out beforehand before a possible evolution of the legal framework which would itself, by definition, be the subject of a public debate at the time of the discussion of the law.” said the administration.

Secondly, the DGFiP clarified that the request made only concerns the addition of the balance of all the accounts, as well as the number of monthly transactions for each account, but not – as the Dinum suggests – the exhaustive list of operations. With one objective: to better detect active accounts to better fight against fraud.

“We have never asked for details on these French accounts. The DGFiP is not asking for more than what it already has. This device will not be made because it is not in the finance bill. And if it were done, there would be a debate in the National Assembly Everything is done in a legal way and if there were to be an enlargement of Ficoba, it would only concern the balance of the accounts and whether the accounts are active or not. It is not a question of questioning the private life of people but of fighting against trafficking”, underlines again this Monday with BFM Crypto the administration.

Be that as it may, this will to monitor Bercy is experienced as a real danger in terms of privacy, especially in the eyes of the crypto ecosystem.

“We would have a traceability of all the actors”

“If the project were to happen (to materialize, editor’s note), we would have traceability of all the economic actors in France. In my opinion, such a project is counterproductive for the economy of France, any actor will want to protect from such economic control. If individuals have nothing to hide, ok, but for companies that are in France the question may arise”, explains the one who calls himself Slashbin ‘on Twitter, who is very active within the crypto community.

Moreover, some players in the crypto ecosystem are even projecting themselves into a more serious situation in France.

“In the series “The Scarlet Handmaid”, people cannot escape the dictatorship that is taking place, their bank accounts are blocked. In some countries, you need a weapon to withdraw your money from the banks. For us, an effective way to protect yourself from such a scenario is to have bitcoin. We cannot seize it from you, nor prevent you from exchanging it”, specifies Sébastien Gouspillou, mining specialist, co-founder of the Bigblock DC. Sébastien Gouspillou is referring here in particular to Lebanon, where some desperate people end up robbing their bank to recover their money.

However, bitcoin remains a so-called pseudonymous cryptocurrency, which means that it is quite possible to follow user transactions on the blockchain, and therefore to monitor user transactions.

Thus, the blockchain being transparent, “it is therefore the ideal mass surveillance tool to know what users are doing with their money”, underlines Sébastien Leguell, the founder of the specialized media. Around the Block.

As a reminder, the blockchain (or chain of blocks) regroups all the blocks (batches of transactions) of a network, from the oldest to the most recent. The two best-known blockchains are Bitcoin (and its own cryptocurrency bitcoin) and Ethereum (and its own cryptocurrency ether).

The question of privacy (pricacy) “is very present in the crypto universe and there is also the existence of a public register (in reference to the blockchain, editor’s note) so paradoxically this can call privacy into question. Even if the register is public, the surnames and first names of the users are not present on the transactions, so we can limit the imprint that our identity leaves on the blockchain”, underlines Gilles Cadignan, the co-founder of the startup Woleet.

For him and other members of the French ecosystem that we interviewed, cryptocurrencies make it possible in particular to protect the privacy of users, starting with the queen of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin.

“Bitcoin makes it possible to bypass traceability”, slips Slashbin’. Indeed, for example, a user can very well generate as many payment addresses as he wants to carry out transactions, so as to cover his tracks. It can also use mixing systems. One of the best-known mixing systems remains to this day Tornado Cash, although the service has been caught in a turmoil this summer.

In general, “the best way to lose your ‘privacy’ is to go through exchanges”, considers Gilles Cadignan. Indeed, a user who uses a cryptocurrency exchange platform such as Binance or Coinbase must provide the platform with a lot of identity information in the face of the so-called KYC (“Know your consumer”) control.

“Cryptos allow you to regain control over your private life”

In addition, for Gilles Cadignan, Bercy’s inclinations on bank accounts above all give the crypto ecosystem the opportunity to criticize the potential abuses of current central bank digital currency projects (MDBC).

With these MDBC projects, the risk “is that each transaction is known and that we can prohibit certain types of purchases at the source. The payment data has always been known to the banks without it bothering many people, but with cryptocurrencies, the privacy aspect becomes a strong argument against the fiat world (legal money systems, Ed.) Cryptos allow you to regain control over your privacy and what you want to do of our money. Quite the opposite of what Bruno Le Maire said”, explains Gilles Cadignan.

Last week, the governor of the Banque de France also mentioned an approximate date for the launch of a digital euro, around 2026 or 2027.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde said the People’s Bank of China is ahead of the ECB on its central bank digital currency project. Does it take China as a model for applying such a project? If so, it’s worrying”, wondered Alexandre Stachchenko on BFM Crypto.

For some players in the ecosystem, MDBCs could introduce certain functions such as those for monitoring end-to-end user transactions, blocking or freezing accounts or even directly collecting what they want from an address. “These are only ‘rumors’ because it is at an embryonic stage. But what would be the point of deploying 100% decentralized crypto for the state if it cannot control them behind it?” Asks Sebastien Leguell.

An anonymous bitcoin?

Faced with this blockchain-induced paradox, the crypto ecosystem has been thinking for many years about making transactions more anonymous. For example, some bitcoiners are calling for increased anonymity on the Bitcoin blockchain. For example, a debate exists over whether the Lightning Network (LN) makes bitcoin more “anonymous”. This system, whose “white paper” (white paper) dates from 2015, wants to allow the use of bitcoin as a means of payment, for low-value transactions, and with reduced fees.

Some players consider that this solution would make transactions involving the use of bitcoin more anonymous, since the transactions are done outside the blockchain. Conversely, others specify that if this system adds complexity to transactions with bitcoin, the transactions remain traceable.

Among the other systems used by the crypto ecosystem to protect privacy, there are also so-called “anonymous” cryptocurrencies such as Monero or Z-cash. Overall, the latter pose more difficulties in tracing the source of the transactions.

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Bank Accounts: Why Bercy’s Oversight Will Strengthens the Crypto Ecosystem

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