Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will announce the launch of a ‘cryptoassets task force’ at the British government’s ‘International Fintech Conference’, which is being held today in central London.
The task force will be made up of people from the treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority (the UK’s financial regulator). It is being created to “manage the risks around Cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” according to Hammond.
A couple of weeks ago, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, gave a speech in London in which he warned of a regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrency, painting a negative picture of a technology whose main purpose is illegality. “Authorities are rightly concerned that given their inefficiency and anonymity, one of the main reasons for their use is to shield illicit activities. This cannot be condoned. Anarchy may reign on the dark web, but in the UK it’s just a song that your parents used to listen to,” he said.
However, the break from Europe is coming, and big companies have already begun moving away from London. The British government is eager to present the UK as a country so friendly to foreign business that the loss of access to Europe can be overlooked, and to this end it has recognised that blockchain technology can’t be disregarded. As can be read on the official website, “the Conference offers a unique opportunity to explore why the UK is the ideal place to invest in FinTech, and to engage directly with firms seeking all stages of investment.”
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The cryptocurrency working group is one facet of a new ‘Fintech Sector Strategy’. This strategy will also include ‘robo-regulation’ pilot schemes, which will automate the process of legal compliance for new companies, a ‘fintech bridge’ between the UK and Australia, which will help UK companies expand internationally, and the creation of three ‘Fintech Regional Envoys’. These latter will “ensure the benefits of fintech are felt across the UK”.
The one day-conference will host 125 British fintech firms, aiming to pair them off with investors. The event is part of ‘HM Treasury’s UK FinTech Week’, a series of events facilitated by the treasury and funded and organised by “leading financial services organisations”.
Matt Hancock, Digital and Culture Secretary, said: “We are determined to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business while giving consumers more choice when it comes to managing their money. This new nationwide fintech programme will help startups right across the country flourish in the future and spread the benefits of this pioneering technology.”
Iqbal Gandham, UK Managing Director of eToro, said: “A sensible review into the risks and case uses for cryptos is a vital stage in cementing the legitimacy of the sector, and paving the way for it to flourish in the UK.”