The UK Government Is Launching a Cryptocurrency ‘Task Force’

Mar 22, 2018 at 04:00 UTC
Updated Mar 22, 2018 at 12:14 UTC

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is expected to announce a government “crypto assets task force”  and a host of other fintech initiatives on Thursday.

According to a statement from the office of the Treasury, Hammond will reveal the task force, which will include the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority in addition to the Treasury, at the government’s second International Fintech Conference.

The initiative, part of the government’s larger Fintech Sector Strategy, “will help the U.K. to manage the risks around Cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” he said in the statement.

Hammond is also set to announce several other measures relating to the fintech sector more broadly, including “the next steps in ‘robo-regulation.'”

The statement said that the latter would consist of “pilot schemes to help new fintech firms, and the financial services industry more widely, comply with regulations by building software which would automatically ensure they follow the rules, saving them time and money.”

Likewise, the statement revealed the government’s intention to create a U.K.-Australia “fintech bridge,” which will aim to connect the countries’ respective markets and to “help U.K. firms expand internationally.”

Other notable features of the Fintech Sector Strategy include the creation of standards to make it easier for fintech firms to partner with banks.

The statement also indicates the government plans to collaborate with fintech companies to “create ‘shared platforms’ which will help remove the barriers that these firms face.”

It did not provide further detail regarding the nature of these platforms.

The U.K. government has largely proved amenable to blockchain technology broadly, but it has shown less enthusiasm for cryptocurrency.

At January’s World Economic Forum, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was concerned about potential criminal usage of crypto. At the same event, Hammond called for the regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, made a similar appeal for regulation at the beginning of March during a speech at the Scottish Economics Conference.

Philip Hammond image via Shutterstock

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