The U.K.'s top regulator has been cracking the whip on crypto companies, but the government just sent a strong message on its blockchain game plan: The British are coming.
The U.K. government on Monday unveiled a big push into crypto, including a plan to mint its own NFT.
“I am announcing today that the Chancellor has asked the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token — an NFT… to be issued by the Summer, an emblem of the forward-looking approach we are determined to take,” John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said in a speech.
The announcement was part of an ambitious plan to "make the U.K. a global hub for crypto-asset technology" and "to ensure firms can invest, innovate and scale up in this country,” Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the Exchequer, also said in a statement.
The U.K. plan includes setting up a “financial market infrastructure sandbox” where crypto companies can experiment and innovate and the formation of a crypto engagement group that will work with the crypto industry and explore ways to make the U.K. tax system more competitive in relation to the crypto-asset market.
The announcement comes at a time when crypto appeared to be facing heightened regulatory pressure in the U.K., and illustrates the tensions at play where governments at once see an economic opportunity in encouraging the development of crypto as a high-growth financial sector and seek to contain risks of unregulated markets in digital assets.
The Financial Conduct Authority has ordered companies offering crypto products and services to register with the British regulator, and the Advertising Standards Authority has sent enforcement notices to companies for using FOMO and light-hearted memes to advertise crypto.
The FCA also has warned consumers that crypto assets are “high-risk” and “people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them.”
The unveiling of the U.K. crypto strategy also follows a controversial EU vote that essentially bans anonymous crypto transactions in the region.
“We hear the concerns … some of which are valid,” Glen said. “We’ve already said that we’ll seek to protect consumers by legislating to bring certain crypto assets into the scope of financial promotions regulation … and it’s essential that investors understand the risks they are taking.”