George Osborne hopes to turn Britain into bitcoin capital

A government review will explore the benefits and threats of digital currencies, and the role that cryptocurrencies could play in business

The Treasury has launched a review looking to turn the UK into a centre for virtual currency trade, the chancellor, George Osborne, announced at Canary Wharf in London.

Officials will study the benefits and threats unregulated digital currencies including bitcoin, which peaked with a market capitalisation of around $14bn at the end of 2013 but has since declined to about $8bn according to bitcoin market watcher BlockChain.

The study, due in the autumn, will detail the role that cryptocurrencies could play in business, as part of the government’s plan to stimulate innovation in the financial technology (fintech) sector.

‘Cementing Britain’s position as the centre of global finance’

“It’s only by harnessing innovations in finance, alongside our existing world class knowledge and skills in financial services, that we’ll ensure Britain’s financial sector continues to meet the diverse needs of businesses and consumers, here and around the globe, and create the jobs and growth we all want to see in the future,” Osborne said at the launch of Innovate Finance, a new industry body established to promote the interests of the UK’s rapidly growing fintech sector.

“Key to the government’s long term economic plan is cementing Britain’s position as the centre of global finance,” Osborne said.

Claire Cockerton, chief executive and director of Innovate Finance, said: “The time has come for radical transformation of the financial services industry. Whether you are a consumer, banker or young entrepreneur – we all see enormous potential for innovation and growth in the financial services sector.

“While London and the UK provide the right talent, expertise, and market conditions, we believe our collective entrepreneurial spirit will lead us to compete and prosper on a global stage.”

The move comes after New York State proposed a licensing scheme for the trading of bitcoin, which would see companies accepting or trading bitcoin keep records of the identities and addresses of customers. Companies will also be forced to keep an amount of bitcoin that is larger than or equal to the sum owed to customers.

Independent Scotland ‘could be bitcoin testbed’


Samuel Gibbs

The GuardianTramp

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