Britain’s junior finance minister John Glen has confirmed an upcoming government research effort in seeking to better understand and look into potential risks of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
Speaking at a financial conference on Monday, Glen cited concerns with crypto-related risks, particularly after the “explosion of growth” of prominent currencies like bitcoin in the mainstream. As a result, the minister revealed that Britain’s government and regulators will take a detailed look into potential risks related to cryptocurrencies with new research, Reuters reports.
“In our upcoming fintech strategy, the government will announce further work with the Financial Conduct Authority [the financial regulator and watchdog] and the Bank of England [the central bank] to consider these issues in more detail.”
The minister’s revelation comes within a month of the Treasury Select Committee – a powerful collection of cross-party UK MPs – launching an ‘inquiry’ into cryptocurrencies to study both the opportunities and risks presented to consumers, businesses and the government itself. The move to launch an inquiry was summed up as a crash-course for politicians and officials at “Whitehall and Westminster [to understand] cryptocurrency better” by one committee member.
Regulatory Balance to Safeguard Innovation
Junior finance minister Glen, who also oversees the well-being of the financial services sector, has stressed that the government will strive to preserve London’s position among the world’s leading FinTech hubs for cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. For instance, two years after San Francisco-based Coinbase first launched in the UK with a London office, the US exchange is expanding its London staff 8x after acquiring an FCA e-money license in its foray into expanding across the EU.
“The UK is the best place in the world for fintech and my mandate is to ensure it remains such,” Glen said.
The minister also revealed a record-breaking year for Britain’s fintech sector in 2017. A total of £1.3 billion was poured into the industry with over half of the funding coming from abroad, Glen said, underlining the encouraging stance taken by the government to embrace and welcome crypto- and blockchain-related companies to its shores.
In related news this week, Bank of England (BOI) governor Mark Carney, who also serves as chairman to the Financial Stability Board (FSB), told finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s twenty largest economies (G20) that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin do not represent a risk to the global financial system.