The City of London has long been considered the financial hub of Europe, and the inclusion of Bitcoin company, Blockchain, on last weeks trade delegation to South East Asia, suggests the UK Government may be positioning itself to take a similar role in the world of cryptocurrency.
Blockchain may be considered an interesting choice to accompany Prime Minister, David Cameron, on such a visit alongside such British stalwarts as Rolls Royce and Lloyds of London. But trade missions are designed to give a more holistic (yet of course unabashedly positive) view of the potential of British trade partners, indicating that the UK government sees the company as one of the country's bright hopes for the future.
Although the British Government is yet to announce a regulatory framework regarding cryptocurrencies, recent indications have been overwhelmingly positive. Back in February, the Bank of England altered its previous stance on digital currencies, publishing a report espousing many of the benefits of both Bitcoin and blockchain technologies, as reported on CoinTelegraph.
And in his 2015 budget, UK Chancellor George Osborne announced a £10M research fund looking into the opportunities presented by cryptocurrency, whilst at the same time promising any regulation would be designed to “support innovation and prevent criminal use.”
Osborne has also made several comments through Twitter and other avenues publicly supporting Bitcoin.
Blockchain has been experiencing impressive growth recently. The London-based company now claims over 4 million users, and a doubling of transactions through its wallets and API in the past six months. So with an announcement on a regulatory framework expected soon, perhaps the inclusion of the company seems a little less esoteric.
Blockchain co-founder and CEO, Peter Smith states:
“We’ve been working pretty closely with Number 10 and the policy makers in the U.K. generally. I think the invitation is a reflection of the positive relationship and the Prime Minister’s dedication to fintech, and especially fintech 2.0.”
London's “Silicon Roundabout,” situated around Old Street, “just up the road” from the financial district of the city, is already an impressive hub of tech startups. Thus, it would certainly make sense for the UK to consider the benefits of a regulatory framework promoting cross breeding between the two industries.
In addition, London has reportedly over 44,000 people working in the booming fintech sector, more than New York or Silicon Valley.
It seems that with government support, the UK is certainly well-placed to capitulate on this and become a truly global player in the world of cryptocurrency and fintech
However, this initiative could be significantly undermined and hurt business if the government's controversial Investigatory Powers Bill is passed. This includes a mandatory requirement for software companies to include cryptographic back-doors, making a mockery of having secure cryptography in the first place, and leading to one prominent company, Eris Industries, already threatening to leave the UK.