Crypto disputes in France have tripled, but remain marginal

The mediator of theAutorité des marchés financiers (AMF) notes that the PEA remains the financial product generating the most disputes. However, in 2022 an triple of litigation related to crypto.

The Mediator of the AMF may be contacted by any saver or investor, consumer, natural person or legal entity who has an individual dispute with a financial intermediary or issuer.

And in recent years, the AMF’s mediation service has been in particularly high demand, according to its latest activity report published earlier this month. This increase is due in particular to “the many cases of ignorance or misunderstanding on the part of these new shareholders, who are decidedly more daring or imprudent”, notes the mediator.

54 mediation requests for crypto out of 1900

Does this also apply to crypto-currencies and their holders? 2022 was in any case a year of strong increase in litigation brought to the attention of the AMF Mediation department. The report shows tripling of referrals. This trend can be explained, at least in part, by the democratization of the crypto.

At the same time, the mediator observes an abusive use of the reverse solicitation. The practice is far from unique to crypto finance. By including a standard clause in their terms and conditions, platforms attempt to exempt themselves from compliance with regulations.

Now this behavior is starting to be reported in the crypto-asset field”, warns the Médiation.

Regarding the tripling of disputes, it should be put into perspective. In 2022, mediation requests reached the figure of 1900. Crypto represents a very small proportion of these requests, 54 in total (44 in 2021). Moreover, only 17 of these (6 in 2021), or 32%, were admissible.

Admissible applications boosted by increase in registered PSANs

Of the 37 cases deemed inadmissible, the report states that 23 were likely to involve fraud. As for the increase in the proportion of admissible claims, it can be explained by the rise in the number of PSAN registered with the AMF at the end of 2022 (59, versus 28 a year earlier).

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In addition, some crypto-related transactions are exempt from theAMF and its mediation. This applies in particular to ICOs without AMF approval – which remains optional.

An ICO without a visa remains legal. However, a mediation procedure under the aegis of the AMF Ombudsman is not an option in the absence of a visa”, the Ombudsman points out.

The temptation of the reverse solicitation clause

Similarly, mediation is impossible if the PSAN is neither registered nor approved. This does not prevent suppliers from operating commercially in France. The mediator is concerned about a practice designed to circumvent registration.

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His concern relates to “the temptation to develop a standard clause known as ‘reverse solicitation’ which, if it becomes systematic in general terms and conditions, could lead to claims that no services are provided in France in order to circumvent compulsory registration”.

Staking, passbook, stablecoin promotion… various disputes

After scams, however, it’s the registered PSANs that give rise to the most disputes, according to mediation figures, with 17 cases. As for the reasons, they are “diverse”.

In particular, they concern misleading nature of commercial communicationsbut also staking and passbooks, i.e. crypto-lending.

In some mediation cases still in progress, it appears that the service provider had assured the absence of stablecoin volatility as well as the safe nature of the investment,” the report states.

The news of 2022 has demonstrated the contrary, in particular with TerraUSD. Binance was one of the promoters of the token, which was once the 3rd largest stablecoin on the market.

On its Telegram feed, the leading exchange in terms of transaction volume assured us that investing in UST was “safe and happy” thanks to an annual return of almost 20% by staking the stablecoin.

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