The UK also plans to help bring ‘certain stablecoins’ into its payments framework to allow crypto service providers to grow in the country.
The UK government has announced plans to issue its own NFT as part of an effort to become a “global hub” in the crypto space.
UK chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has asked the Royal Mint – the maker of British coins – to create an NFT to be issued “by the summer”.
This was announced by economic secretary to the treasury John Glen yesterday (4 April), who said the decision is an “emblem of the forward-looking approach we are determined to take”. He added that more details would be available “very soon”.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital files with ownership recorded and verified using blockchain technology. After a surge in interest last year, the NFT market surpassed an estimated $40bn in value.
However, there is evidence to suggest the NFT market is slowing down. Sales at OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, reached almost $5bn in January but declined to $2.5bn last month, Reuters reported today (5 March).
Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Glen said the decision to create an NFT is part of the UK’s broader plan to “lead the way” in harnessing the power of blockchain and crypto technology.
“If crypto technologies are going to be a big part of the future, then we – the UK – want to be in, and in on the ground floor,” Glen said.
As part of this plan, Glen said the UK will be legislating to bring “certain stablecoins into our payments framework” to allow crypto service providers to grow in the UK.
“We want this country to be a global hub – the very best place in the world to start and scale crypto companies,” Glen said. “If there is one message I want you to leave here today with, it is that the UK is open for business – open for crypto businesses.”
Glen noted there is a large debate surrounding crypto, with some worrying about the carbon emissions the industry produces or the potential use of cryptocurrencies for “illicit activity free from government oversight”.
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin had a narrow escape in the European Parliament last month, as MEPs voted to scrap a provision that would have banned, in effect, proof-of-work crypto assets on sustainability grounds.
But MEPs went on to vote in favour of new rules to trace and identify crypto-asset transfers, in a bid to prevent their use in money laundering and other illegal activities.
Meanwhile, NFTs are still attracting global attention. Last week, Visa launched a creator programme to help groups such as artists and musicians scale their businesses through the creation and selling of NFTs. Last month, it was announced that LimeWire is set to return as an NFT marketplace, more than a decade after the file-sharing platform was shut down.
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.