Cryptocurrencies appeared in the digital world a decade ago and are now experiencing significant growth and democratization. 

As virtual means of payment that can be used mainly on the Internet, relying on cryptography to secure transactions and the creation of units, and escaping any control from regulators and central banks exists today more, there are today more than 4000 crypto-currencies in circulation. 

Nevertheless, their legal framework is sometimes confusing and difficult to understand. This article will thus aim to study the legislative framework of cryptocurrencies in France, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, but also their tax regime. We will then examine, in a non-exhaustive way, the Initial Coins Offerings, a new phenomenon of fundraising based on cryptocurrencies. 

What are cryptos in practice ? 

A cryptocurrency is a virtual means of payment that relies on cryptography to secure transactions and the creation of units, and that is beyond the control of regulators and central banks. Cryptocurrencies are therefore based on a computer protocol of encrypted and decentralized transactions, called blockchain. 

The best known cryptocurrency is bitcoin, which is a virtual unit of account stored on electronic media. Nevertheless, today there are more than 4000 cryptocurrencies in circulation in the world, the best known outside of bitcoin being for example Ethereum, Ripple or EOS, XRP, Tether, Cardan, Stellar, Chainlink, Uniswap, Polkado or USD Coin.

Cryptocurrencies are part of the broader framework of cryopoassets,which represent “virtual assets stored on an electronic medium allowing a community of users accepting them in payment to carry out transactions without having to resort to legal tender”. 

The issuance and circulation of digital cryptoassets is particularly related to Initial Coins Offerings(“ICOs”). Unlike a stock exchange issue (IPO), the ICO is financed on digital media called tokens. The ICO thus represents a fundraising operation operating through the issuance of digital assets exchangeable for cryptocurrencies during the start-up phase of a start-up or a business project. 

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