25 Mar 2018
Britain announced a task force on Thursday to exploit the technology underpinning cryptoassets, such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as part of new plans to help fintech companies find more customers.
British finance minister Philip Hammond said he was committed to helping fintech grow and flourish by taking a series of domestic steps and forging links overseas.
“As part of that, a new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” Hammond told a fintech conference hosted by the finance ministry.
Investors have flocked to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin despite wild price swings.
Regulators have warned that investors could lose all their money, but see promise in the blockchain technology that underpins cryptoassets.
Britain’s announcement comes after finance ministers from the Group of 20 richest economies (G20) were unable this week to find enough consensus for global regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Britain’s financial services minister John Glen said he expected an interim report on cryptoassets soon, though initial guidance is that the scale of activity does not pose any significant risks.
“Regulation could be an enabler of a stable, flourishing cryptocurrency sector,” Glen told reporters.
Bank of England Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said the central bank has set up a new fintech hub to consider both how the Bank understands and how it applies fintech, relevant to its mission.
Ramsden said the hub would be a central point of contact for the fintech sector and would play a role in the new taskforce announced by Hammond.
Britain has become a major center for fintech and wants to reassure the sector of its support ahead of the country’s departure from the European Union next March.
The EU has also stepped up efforts to make itself more attractive as a location for fintech firms.
France plans to create a legal framework for raising funds via cryptocurrencies and aims to become a leading center for offerings in bitcoin-style digital currencies, its finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, wrote on a news website.
Glen said despite French President Emmanuel Macron rolling out the red carpet to fintech firms, he saw no significant evidence of a serious appetite among firms in London to move to new jurisdictions.
While Brexit could be a distraction, there was also no evidence it was impeding investment in UK fintech, Glen said.
“We are still seeing great buoyancy and I expect that to continue. In fintech we see global opportunities,” Glen added.
– By Huw Jones, Emma Rumney, additional reporting by William Schomberg, Reuters, 22 March 2018
Link here to view the full Reuters article.
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