A British politician said that the UK might implement digital asset regulation within a year, claiming that the country wants to capitalize on blockchain’s benefits to the private sector and economy.
Andrew Griffith, the UK Treasury’s economic secretary, told CNBC on April 17 that the long-term objective is to “let firms make the most of the opportunities from crypto assets” through good crypto regulation.
Griffith argued that for the first time in “decades,” the UK government is now well-positioned to regulate cryptocurrency in a “pragmatic” and “proportionate” manner, and appeared to make reference to the UK’s exit from the European Union:
“I believe the window is open for the next 12 months.” We have this tremendous asset in the UK; we have control back of a rule book — something the UK hasn’t had in decades — so we can move in an agile and proportionate manner.”
It prompted the lawmaker to declare that the United Kingdom is now in a “growth” mindset to optimize the economic efforts of private-sector technological innovation.
Griffith noted that the crypto regulatory framework would incorporate existing financial asset legislation and new crypto-specific standards. “Wherever possible, we want to see the same asset regulated in the same way, but there are some additional opportunities in the crypto asset or distributed ledger space, and we want to take advantage of that.”
He referenced the financial services law as an example of settlement utilizing fiat-backed cryptocurrency. “So that’s coming even sooner than the broader regulatory framework,” he said.
Griffith stated that a prospective launch of the United Kingdom’s proposed central bank digital currency (CBDC) — dubbed “Britcoin” by the public — has a significantly longer “lead time” and so would not occur within the next year.
Griffith added that he would like to see a policy debate about privacy and digital pound technology “thrashed out” to ensure that all concerns are addressed: “If you’re going to have a sovereign digital currency, you’ve got to have the highest level of resilience and infrastructure, so that’s not going to happen overnight.”
Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, met with Griffith earlier this week while in London for a speech on how the United Kingdom might “turbocharge” its crypto sector and eventually become an “innovation hub for the Web3 economy.” Coinbase’s crypto hub ambitions for the United Kingdom line with those of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who stated last year as Finance Minister that he would like to see the United Kingdom become a crypto hub.
Dubai, Singapore, and, more recently, Hong Kong have all made moves to become crypto centers.
Since Gary Gensler was sworn in as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2021, the United States has significantly increased crypto-related enforcement action.