The U.K. government has announced plans to mint its own non-fungible token, as part of a push toward becoming a “world leader” in the cryptocurrency space.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has asked the Royal Mint — the government-owned company responsible for minting coins for the U.K. — to create and issue the NFT “by the summer,” City Minister John Glen said at a fintech event in London. “There will be more details available very soon,” he added.
The minister announced plans to:
- Bring stablecoins within the U.K.’s existing regulations on electronic payments.
- Consult on a “world-leading regime” for regulating trade in other cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.
- Ask the Law Commission to consider the legal status of blockchain-based communities known as decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs.
- Examine the tax treatment of decentralized finance (DeFi) loans and “staking,” which gives crypto users the ability to earn interest on their savings.
- Establish a Cryptoasset Engagement Group that will be chaired by ministers and host members from U.K. regulators and crypto businesses.
- Explore the application of blockchain technology in issuing debt instruments.
“We shouldn’t be thinking of regulation as a static, rigid thing,” Glen said. “Instead, we should be thinking in terms of regulatory ‘code’ — like computer code — which we refine and rewrite when we need to.”
Glen said the government was also “widening” its gaze to look at other aspects of crypto, including the so-called Web3. It is a movement that proposes a more decentralized version of the internet built on blockchain technology.
“No one knows for sure yet how Web3 is going to look,” Glen said. “But there’s every chance that blockchain is going to be integral to its development.”
“We want this country to be there leading from the front, seeking out the greatest economic opportunities.”
Mauricio Magaldi, global strategy director for crypto at the fintech consultancy 11: FS, took a dubious view of the government’s NFT plans. The decision “seems to be nothing more than a strategic PR-play,” he said in an emailed comment. But “talk of the U.K. becoming a ‘crypto hub’ seems to hold much more promise,” he added.