Regulation, Europe, Binance... Exclusive interview with Faustine Fleuret (Adan)
Faustine Fleuret, the only candidate to stand for re-election, has just been re-elected as head of the Association for the Development of Digital Assets (Adan). In an interview with The Big Whale, she looks back at the major challenges facing the ecosystem at French and European level.
The Big Whale: You've just been re-elected as head of Adan. How do you feel about it?
Faustine Fleuret: I'm very happy. For me, it's both recognition of the work accomplished during my first term, of what we've been doing since 2021 with all the members of Adan, and also a choice that commits me because there are a lot of things to do over the next two years.
You were re-elected without any candidates running against you. Why did this happen? Wasn't this election an opportunity for a real debate on the future of Adan?
That could indeed have happened, but I simply think that the majority of members were satisfied with my work and that some potential candidates also understood that the job of president is not an easy one...
I stood as a candidate a few weeks ago, I gave my programme internally, said what I wanted to do. I put a lot of thought into it, I took this election very seriously, and I think that's what convinced the members of Adan.
In fact, I think that continuity is a very good thing because it will enable us to resume all the discussions we had with our contacts: politicians, companies, regulators...
What successes do you remember from your first term of office?
I think that the association's representativeness is a real success. When I took over as head of Adan, there were around fifty companies, mainly crypto, and today we have 200 companies from a wide range of backgrounds. We need to continue along this path.
Do you feel that all sectors are well represented?
We can always do better, but today we have representatives from video games, DeFi, NFTs...
Isn't it complicated to manage this diversity?
That's what Adan's committees are for. Today, we have four: one on law, one on PSANs, one on NFTs and one on DeFi.
These committees enable us to make progress on specific subjects without consulting and mobilising all Adan members every time. We don't need the PSANs to work on DeFi-related subjects, and vice versa. These committees evolve according to Adan's priorities.
Parallel to this, we have thematic working groups, which are open to everyone. These committees and working groups are part of Adan's internal operations. Externally, we have and must carry a common voice.
You talk about Adan's diversity, yet the majority of board members (10 members plus committee chairs) are centralised players like Fireblocks, Coinhouse or even Binance France. Isn't this a problem for a sector that champions decentralisation?
Being a director of Adan is an activity that requires time and resources, so it's not surprising to find fairly established and mostly centralised players. Anyone can be a member of Adan's Board of Directors, but to do so you have to stand as a candidate and be elected. That's what we've just done.
Start-ups and more decentralised players are not excluded. They are closely involved in the work in committees or working groups. There is a DeFi committee, headed by Marc Zeller (Aave), who is also an ex-officio member of the Adan board. You also have to bear in mind that not everyone wants to go public. Some are very happy to act more discreetly.
What is the role of Adan's Board of Directors?
It brings together the players who will help me to speak more directly for the ecosystem. It's a real commitment, and not just a symbolic one.
Speaking of symbols, Binance France has been elected to Adan's Board of Directors at a time when the platform is the target of several investigationsin Franceand abroad? Isn't there a reputational risk?
Of course, I understand that there is some concern, but it was Adan's 200 members who voted for Binance to join the board.
Binance has been a member of Adan since September, and they are very involved both in the working groups and in the ecosystem, particularly in the person of Stéphanie Cabossioras (Managing Director of Binance France, editor's note). Many members see this involvement, and I think it has worked in their favour.
So the existence of investigations is not a problem?
This is not the first time that a company has been the target of a legal investigation, there are many of them, especially outside Web3. I think, in reality, that we need to decorrelate the two: there is the life of companies and the life of Adan.
And more generally, we need to take a step back. Binance is a historic player in the ecosystem, they launched at a time when there was no regulation. Like many others, they learnt as they went along, and gradually got into the swing of things. Today, they comply with French regulations, and that's the most important thing.
Do you understand that this situation is worrying some members of the association, especially after a year marked by repeated scandals?
I understand that this raises questions, but once again, it's a choice made by the members of Adan.
What will happen if things ever accelerate on the legal front for Binance France?
Adan has internal rules and a charter of good practice that serve as safeguards. If the situation were to change, we could take the necessary measures. All Adan members are familiar with the charter. In the event of non-compliance, the association, in consultation with its board of directors, can suspend or deregister any of its members.
You are now not only president of Adan, but also its chief executive, which was not the case for your predecessors. Isn't this an issue in terms of governance? Why not separate the two roles once again?
I'm not going to hide the fact that it's hard to wear both hats, but if the members have reappointed me, it's because they think I'm capable of holding both positions. In any case, I'm going to do everything I can to prove them right.
How many employees does Adan have?
Today, counting myself, there are seven of us. The team still needs to grow.
Adan currently brings together 200 companies, but some players, particularly in video games such as Sorare and Voodoo, are not members and are moving forward on their own. Why aren't they? Isn't this a collective failure?
It's obviously a problem. While some players are working together and providing resources for the whole ecosystem, others don't have the same approach, and that's a shame. After that, we can't force everyone to join us.
What's the problem?
I think it's a misunderstanding of the situation. Adan's role is not to take the place of companies. It's perfectly normal for companies to defend their interests on issues that are specific to them (Sorare on the "Games with monetisable digital objects" law, editor's note). But we also need a collective voice.
An association does not replace companies, it helps them. The collective is at the service of individual cases.
Some people criticise the fact that Adan, as it expands, is losing coherence. Do you agree?
We cannot have subjective admission criteria for members. We need objective criteria: to be a member of Adan, you need to have a project, an activity in Web3.
After that, your sector of activity or your size doesn't matter. Let's not forget that Adan's mission is to develop Web3, so you have to be open.
Do you turn away members?
This has happened to us, but because the company had no connection with Web3 and cryptos.
Some Adan members are not necessarily very recommendable.... Isn't that a subject?
We pay close attention, but we can't, and it's certainly not our role, to investigate every member. When companies apply, we look to see whether they are companies that deal with digital assets, and whether they are registered or in the process of being registered.
We have this filter, but no more. It would be a mistake to do otherwise, because our role is also to support projects. Today, we need everyone to move forward.
What are your priorities for this new mandate?
I have three priorities. The first is to be more European. We're still too French, which is normal, but we need to open up to European players. We're in the process of recruiting someone in Brussels to establish this European strategy.
The second priority is to diversify our themes. We don't just need to focus on purely financial issues. Gaming is one of the areas where we need to be more present.
The third is obviously the major groups. These major groups like Casino and others can give greater weight to our action, enabling us to find new allies, particularly with politicians and the regulator.
What will enable you to achieve these objectives?
I think that part of the solution comes from member involvement. They have to understand that Adan needs them. If the members don't support us, our action will be limited.
What resources do you have?
Thanks to the members, and their subscriptions, we already have a fine team. The challenge is to grow even more.
Adan currently lives off its members' subscriptions. Is this the only source of income?
It's the main one. Last year, we received a grant from the Cosmos foundation, which is a first-layer protocol.
Why Cosmos? What's in it for them?
They're keeping a close eye on regulatory developments in decentralised finance in Europe, so for them it was interesting to fund us. They know that we will defend the interests of the industry.
What was the amount of this grant?
About 80,000 euros, it's public.
What are Adan's political relations? What levers do you have at your disposal?
We have gradually managed to create links with elected representatives, but there are elections and our contacts change, so we need to maintain these networks.
The next deadlines are the senatorial elections, which as we saw during the debates around the "influencers law", are important contacts. There are the European elections in 2024.
More generally, how do you see politicians? Is Web3 still a priority issue in France and Europe?
Yes, of course, even if there's always a gap between what we'd like to do and the reality on the ground.
What's the first project you'd like to work on for this second term?
In the short term, it's the senatorial elections in the autumn. This kind of sequence allows us to re-explain what we do, what the Web3 industry represents in France, its 5,000 or so jobs and above all its potential!
In the medium term, i.e. next year, we're going to have a big stake in the European elections. As we've seen with MiCA, the industry doesn't only have friends, far from it, and so we'll need to get involved in the campaign to make our voice heard.
Isn't it complicated to represent Web3 at a time when all we're talking about is artificial intelligence?
I think that the two subjects are complementary. We have members who are as much into artificial intelligence as Web3, so bridges will be built, and the two will develop together.