On Thursday, U.K. Finance Minister Philip Hammond announced the creation of a new "crypto asset task force" amid a handful of other financial technology initiatives coming from the British government.
The cryptocurrency task force will include Britain's central bank, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), at a time when the digital currency space is facing heightened pressure from governments worldwide seeking more regulation of the decentralized market. (See also: Bitcoin Will Become World’s ‘Single Currency’: Dorsey.)
The news comes as part of a larger initiative to make the U.K. the "most attractive home" for global fintech companies, said Hammond at a financial technology conference in London, organized by the U.K.'s finance department. His comments come as many have grown concerned over the potentially negative impact on businesses of the U.K.'s decision to to leave the European Union, particularly as it threatens free trade across the bloc.
Governments Seek to Regulate Highly Volatile E-Currency
"Every hour a new tech business is founded in the U.K. and my aim is to make that every half hour," the minister stated. "Our doors will always be open to the innovators and inventors."
As the global market is injected with a rush of volatility on fears of a potential trade war, Britain's new fintech strategy also promises to make stronger ties with Australia, including a recently signed agreement that allows British fintech firms to sell products and services in Australia. The deal, called a "fintech bridge," intends to expand collaboration on regulation and policies surrounding the fintech sector and will involve regular summits between the two countries' fintech industry bodies.
Addressing illicit activity in the cryptocurrency space has become higher on the agenda for governments around the world, seeking to thwart money laundering and terrorism financing. On Wednesday, news broke that the U.S. National Security Agency has been monitoring the bitcoin blockchain, making it a primary goal to track down senders and receivers of bitcoin for the purpose of taking down organized crime and the use of e-currency services to move and launder money. Bitcoin is the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Earlier this month, highlighting risks of cryptocurrencies' extreme volatility, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney called for increased regulation on the market, which he indicated has fallen into a "speculative mania." FCA Chief Andrew Bailey echoed this bearish sentiment, telling cyrpto investors to "be prepared to lose all your money." (See also: NSA Helped Track Down Bitcoin Users, Snowden Papers Allege.)
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