The Treasury is asking for information on new digital currencies from the public, law enforcement agencies and financial regulators – but also from so-called “FinTech” firms, which include bitcoin afficionados.
Bitcoin is largely unregulated across the globe, although New York’s department of financial services has suggested creating a “bitlicense” to impose some constraints on the currency.
The Treasury will be looking at examples of regulation in other countries, but emphasises that the lead will come from responses to its own call for information. “Digital currencies and digital currency exchanges are currently unregulated in the UK,” said a Treasury spokesman.
“We’re considering the potential benefits of digital currencies to customers and the technology that underpins them, and whether we should take action to support innovation in this area. We’re also looking at the potential risks, and assessing whether action is required to address any concerns.”
The fact-finding mission follows August’s announcement by chancellor George Osborne that the government intends to focus on cryptocurrencies, and FinTech in general. “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,” the chancellor said at the time.
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