First, we asked Axel Simon about the latest accusations made by Bruno Le Maire , Minister of the Economy in France. Recently, Bruno Le Maire has indeed committed to fight against the financing of Islamist terrorism via cryptocurrencies. According to him, terrorists use cryptoassets like Bitcoin to finance their activities.
Bruno Le Maire accuses cryptocurrencies of financing terrorism, while the crypto sector is already highly regulated. Is this an excuse to impose new restrictions?
I had not seen this ad, nor do I follow the news closely. Already, to be clear enough, La Quadrature does not have a determined and clear-cut position on cryptocurrencies and on blockchain issues in general. We are interested, but we don’t really have an overall position. We haven’t really taken an interest in it yet as a collective.
But yes, indeed, the entry points of many cryptocurrencies are still well regulated at the present time with everything that is against money laundering in particular. After that, the concrete operation of the majority of cryptocurrencies is that the traces of almost everything that is done are kept, except on a minority of cryptocurrencies which are not the most popular to my knowledge. So I find that this is an advertisement which is not very interesting. I mean, we know that organized crime does not usually go through cryptocurrency to finance itself . There are more pressing questions about tax havens and even the big banks that turn a blind eye when similar things happen., not necessarily on terrorism, but on crime in general. It is not very relevant.
The digital yuan and Chinese social credit digital yuan
Then we brought up the subject of the digital yuan and Chinese social credit. Indeed, China is currently testing a central bank digital currency in several cities in its territory. Coupled with social credit and a blockchain centralizing all information concerning citizens , this crypto-yuan represents a danger to privacy and freedom.
What does the use of blockchain as a tool for mass surveillance in China inspire you, with in particular the appearance of Chinese social credit and the digital yuan?
I don’t see the connection with blockchains because a blockchain is always a system that works on decentralization, that’s the only sense in which it’s useful. When it’s a single entity and organization, the Chinese government, that can force everyone to use a single system, it doesn’t matter if it’s a blockchain underneath. Whether it is a blockchain or a centralized database, it comes down to the same thing because we have a single actor who controls the information, access to information or writes information, and beyond that who controls whether the population is forced to use the system. In fact, the blockchain part in there is secondary, the real question is completely political, it is outside of what is generally linked to blockchains. Technically, if it’s a blockchain below, why not, but the problem is not at all on this technical aspect,
Finally, a centralized blockchain is not a real blockchain?
Yes, that’s it. The whole point of a blockchain is to have several nodes that belong to different entities so that they can together keep a vision of reality, and of the truth with a small v. And thus avoid that only one of the entities of the group can make lie the archives in large, in a way too easy or invisible. And there, it is totally under the control of the Chinese government, therefore of the same organization … it has no technical interest.
Do you think that a system like Chinese social credit could be implemented elsewhere in the world, including in Europe?
Good question ! I think people would care a lot about it, but you can also get people to do a lot of things with the right incentives, giving people benefits for example, but not in the same way. We are already seeing bits and pieces of this system: there are a lot of people who use loyalty cards in stores. It serves to encourage them to come back and therefore to change their behavior. It is always slight changes in Western countries rather than profound changes, that would be too visible. And these bits and pieces are called to progress because people don’t think too much about it. But it will probably not be managed by a central authority that controls and sees everything. Rather, they will be intertwining of the economic interests of different companies. But there will be similar things.