Member of Monaco’s National Council, Franck Julien is the president of the Commission for Digital Development. We met with Franck Julien to talk about how Monaco is faring digitally, and why blockchain has a role to play in the Principality, but we must not rush. 

The digital world has been shaken by the democratisation of blockchain technologies. What role will blockchain plain in Monaco’s digital transformation? 

Like will all digital revolutions, the blockchain revolution too will be progressive. Some compare the impact of blockchain to that of the Internet, which I think is a good analogy. The internet has completely revolutionised many sectors, but it took decades. And the same will be true of the blockchain. At this stage, our concern is to know where the Principality stands with regards to a technology that in the future, will become a key part of the economy. Clearly, the sooner we are present on the blockchain scene, the sooner we will increase our chances of being able to economically benefit from it. We are a small country and can take decisions quickly. If we also look at what we have done with the Extended Monaco program, I believe Monaco has all it needs to become a leader in the field.

For the general public, the most identifiable impact will be the use of crypto-currencies as a means of payment

What does the future look like? Will blockchain transform the way we consume technology?

My answer is perhaps surprising, but for the general public probably very little will change. Blockchain technology is an invisible technology -much like artificial intelligence which today we all without even realising it. If the internet transmits information, blockchain technology transmits value, be it rights, goods, or services. For the general public, the most identifiable impact will be the use of crypto-currencies as a means of payment. But beware, crypto-money does not necessarily mean bitcoin, ethereum or ripple, which are not attached to a legal tender and do not have the legal status of a currency. In the future, we may see stable crypto-money governed by central banks, whose value will be attached to currencies such as the euro, the dollar, or the yuan.

Blockchain is considered the safest technology in the world and many sectors have adopted it. But what about the judicial legitimacy? 

From a theoretical point of view, the problem of judicial legitimacy has already been solved. The law n° 1.383, which we amended in December 2019 and renamed “Law for a Digital Principality”, means that a burden of proof is now required for any information filed in a blockchain. We’re now left with the question of introducing regulations. This is one of the very first subjects I discussed with the new Minister of State, Mr. Pierre Dartout when I had the opportunity to present him the work of the Commission for Digital Development. Mr. Dartout has assured us that new blockchain regulations will be published in the first half of 2021.

I see no reason why Monaco should not find its place in the extremely promising world of blockchain

Is Monaco ahead of other countries on blockchain legislation?

When it comes to digital technology, our laws and regulations have often been behind other countries, sometimes even by a decade. Since the new National Council has been in office, we have made it our mission to reverse the trend and have regularly introduced new legislation. As I mentioned previously, we passed Law No. 1.383 for a digital Principality, which defines the nature of blockchain, then Law No. 1.483 on digital identity, and more recently Law No. 1.491 on token offers.

In December 2019, I brought in front of the Council bill n°246 which aims to tokenise company shares not quoted in blockchain. Since then, the government has indicated its willingness to transform this bill into legislation.

What does this bill consist of?

We’ve discussed bill No. 995 with the Government, which has now promised to introduce by the end of 2020 a law regulating Digital Asset Service Providers (DASPs). The new law will be key to developing a new community of Monegasque professionals who will make use of the infinite possibilities offered by blockchain, such as digital assets and “smart contracts”. It is also likely that we will have to continue discussing the management of digital assets. Switzerland is currently the leader in this field, but I see no reason why Monaco should not find its place in the extremely promising world of blockchain.