French Court Recognizes Bitcoin as Currency

For the Commercial Court of Nanterre, bitcoin is a fungible intangible asset. An important decision that should facilitate bitcoin operations and ensure better market liquidity.

Court decisions concerning cryptocurrencies are so rare that they deserve attention in a universe in the process of regulation. But the decision of the Commercial Court of Nanterre, dated February 26, and revealed by “L’Agefi”, is the first in France, reports LesEchos. Above all, it allows to qualify the legal nature of bitcoin, the most famous and oldest cryptocurrency.

Indeed, the court considers bitcoin as a fungible intangible asset, which is legal as an interchangeable good, but not individualizable like fiat money.

“The scope of this decision is considerable because it allows bitcoin to be treated like money or other financial instruments. It will therefore facilitate bitcoin transactions, such as lending or repo transactions, which are growing, and thus favor the liquidity of the cryptocurrency market , ” says Hubert de Vauplane, lawyer specializing in Kramer & Levin.

This decision was taken in the context of a dispute between the French exchange platform Paymium and the English alternative investment company BitSpread. In summary, Paymium loaned 1,000 bitcoins to BitSpread in 2014, before the hard fork of bitcoin in 2017, which resulted in the new cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash, at a one-to-one parity. The reason for the dispute is whether the borrower should return to the lender the bitcoin cash created by the fork.

 The Legal nature of bitcoin

To answer this question, the Tribunal, therefore, considered the legal nature of bitcoin. The Covenant Law has above all given a status to cryptocurrency players. Once judges have considered bitcoin as a fungible asset, in other words, like money, bitcoin lending falls under the “consumer loan” (not to be confused with consumer credit), which transfers ownership property loaned to the borrower during the term of the loan. And so, the bitcoins Cash belongs to the borrower, like the dividend to the shareholder, considers the Court.

Some cryptocurrency players do not share this analysis and consider the fork more as a destruction of value. Today, bitcoin is worth more than $9,140 and bitcoin Cash $340 at the time of writting. Now all loan contracts will be accompanied by a return clause to the lender in the event of a  fork. The question of the possession of rights between debtors and creditors before and after the split undoubtedly promises great legal battles.