A British legislator has suggested that the United Kingdom may establish digital asset regulations within a year in order to take advantage of the potential benefits that blockchain technology could provide for the private sector and the overall economy.
During an interview with CNBC on April 17, Andrew Griffith, the Economic Secretary to the U.K. Treasury, expressed the government’s long-term vision to enable businesses to harness the potential of crypto assets through a robust regulatory framework.
For the first time in “many years,” Griffith stated, the U.K. government is now capable of regulating the crypto industry in a “sensible” and “balanced” way.
He seemingly alluded to the country’s departure from the European Union in his comments.
“In the next 12 or so months, we have an opportunity. We now have control over our own rule book – something the U.K. hasn’t had for a long time – which allows us to move with agility and balance,” Griffith said.
This newfound autonomy, according to the legislator, has placed the U.K. in a “growth” mindset that seeks to optimize the economic contributions driven by technological innovation within the private sector.
Griffith described the prospective crypto regulatory framework as a combination of existing financial asset laws and novel crypto-specific regulations. “We want to regulate the same assets consistently, while also exploiting unique opportunities in the crypto asset or distributed ledger space,” he said.
Griffith provided an example of using fiat-backed cryptocurrencies for settlements, which is included in the financial services bill.
He noted that this development is likely to occur even before the broader regulatory framework is in place.
Regarding the potential launch of the U.K.’s proposed central bank digital currency (CBDC) – informally known as “Britcoin” – Griffith said it has a longer “lead time” and will not materialize within the next year.
He emphasized the importance of thoroughly discussing policy issues related to privacy and the technology of the digital pound to address any concerns. “A sovereign digital currency requires top-notch resilience and infrastructure, which cannot be achieved overnight,” he said.
Earlier this week, Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc COIN, met with Griffith in London to deliver a speech on how the U.K. could “turbocharge” its crypto sector and eventually become a “Web3 innovation hub.”
This ambition aligns with the views of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who expressed his desire for the U.K. to develop into a crypto hub while serving as finance minister last year.
In contrast, the United States has intensified its enforcement actions related to crypto since Gary Gensler was appointed as the Securities Exchange Commission’s chair in April 2021.