I had a feeling that today was going to be an big day in the UK Bitcoin scene – and so it proved.
— Bitcoin Scotland (@BitcoinScot) March 18, 2015
The news came quick and fast this afternoon. To be honest, I’ve not yet had a chance to dive into the various documents in great depth. But it’s worth summarising a few key developments here in case you missed it.
The Budget lands…with funding for digital currency research
As rumoured, the Chancellor came out in the Budget today with some positive news for the nascent digital currency scene (see point 19). He announced that £10 million of funding would be made available for the launch of a new research initiative into the future potential of digital currency technology.
Response to the Call For Information on Digital Currencies
Also you’ll remember that the HM Treasury issued a Call for Information on Digital Currencies back in November. Now they’ve finally issued the Response to the Call for Information on Digital Currencies – in essence, a framework for the regulation of digital currencies. As the last Scottish Bitcoin Meetup guest Jerry Brito at CoinCenter handily summarises, the main points relate to proposals to:-
- Apply anti-money laundering regulation to digital currency exchanges to prevent criminal use.
- Ensure that law enforcement bodies have the necessary training, resources, and legislation to address criminal activity conducted with Bitcoin.
- Work with the British Standards Institute and the digital currency industry to develop a set of best practices for consumer protection that does not impose an extreme regulatory burden players in the space.
- Launch a research initiative with leading institutions within the UK to study digital currencies and increase funding for digital currency research to £10 million.
Report on Future of UK FinTech to 2025
Finally, there’s a 68-page report published today that sets out the findings of the Chief Scientific Advisor on FinTech, Sir Mark Walport, into the future of FinTech in the UK up to 2025. This contains statements such as:-
“Digital currencies such as bitcoin have the potential to replace traditional currency and, by extension, the need for central banking and regulatory systems.”
I’m still holding to my prediction that 2015 will be a huge year for Bitcoin. It’s always felt to me that this would be the year that both legislators and the City/Wall Street made great strides into the area. The report last week by Goldman Sachs stating that “Bitcoin could shape the future of finance” is just one example. That’s not to say that there don’t remain significant hurdles ahead in a number of areas. But I do feel that we’ll be in a far different place come the end of this year than we ever have been before.
So the UK government is now subsidizing research into digital currency technology. How far we’ve come.
— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) March 18, 2015