The UK government has unveiled plans to create a Cryptocurrency Task Force that will explore potential risks and benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology, as part of a wider strategy to bolster the nation’s fintech sector.
Speaking at the government’s International Fintech Conference today, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced the launch of the government “Fintech Sector Strategy”, which includes the creation of a “fintech bridge” with Australia, allowing British fintech firms to sell products in the Australian market, and a number of initiatives, aimed at fostering fintech talent across the country and harnessing “the potential of emerging technologies”.
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The government considers cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers such as blockchain to be among these emerging technologies, so it wants to work with the private sector in order to “understand the risks of crypto-assets, and to consider how to mitigate them, as well as exploring the wider benefits of distributed ledger technology in financial services”. These responsibilities will be handled by a new body, called Cryptocurrency Task Force and consisting of HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The task force will also be responsible for assessing “the future response of the appropriate authorities, including around regulation”. The task force is expected to report back in the summer, the HM Treasury’s statement reads.
Earlier this week, South Korea’s financial watchdog also indicated that blockchain technology would be a big part of its efforts to strengthen the local fintech industry. The regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), aims to encourage banks and insurance companies to use the blockchain in new payment systems to enhance the security of clients’ financial information. The FSC also believes that blockchain can further benefit customers by simplifying verification procedures. The watchdog said that the development of the fintech sector will open new jobs, especially for young people.