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New French law allows crypto investments in major retirement savings plans

Financial newspaper Les Echos reports French assurance vie accounts, used mainly for long-term savings, will be able to accept digital assets

The National Assembly of France, where the country's laws are made (via Shutterstock).

The National Assembly of France, where the country’s laws are made (via Shutterstock).

The French financial publication Les Echos is reporting that a new law passed on April 11 allows French savers to invest in cryptocurrencies in their “assurance vie” life insurance accounts, which are used mainly as medium- to long-term savings vehicles aimed at retirement.

The French “assurance décès” policies are more traditional life insurance policies that pay out upon the holder’s death.

“This was not the primary goal of [the law], but insurers will actually be able to offer products based on crypto-assets,” said Joël Giraud, general rapporteur for the finance committee and a member of the National Assembly for President Emmanuel Macron’s Le Republic En Marche (LREM) party, told the paper. “They will be able to do so through specialized funds.”

Two provisions of the law allow this type of cryptocurrency investment, which Les Echos says has been under negotiations for 18 months.

First, Article 21 amended the Insurance Code to allow the placement of specialized professional funds (SPF) in assurance vie accounts. If the investor’s financial situation or experience meets the terms, which will be defined later by decree, “there is no longer any limit on the assets in which the SPFs eligible for life insurance can invest,” it said.

Second, Article 26 amended the Monetary and Financial Code to allow blockchain-based digital assets to be included in the assets of a SPF.

“With these two provisions, it is written in black and white that SPF can invest in crypto-active like Bitcoin,” said Emilien Bernard-Alzias, a lawyer at Simmons & Simmons LLP, to Les Echos. Still he warned that just because it is allowed does not mean insurance companies will embrace these investments.

Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus senior editor, is a New York-based journalist who has spent much of the last 15 years covering the employee engagement and recognition business. Before that he covered the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and wrote about politics in New York City. Disclosure: Jakobson owns no cryptocurrencies.

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