The UK wants to show that it's embracing crypto, and that includes digital tokens — whether you like them or not. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that the Royal Mint will issue an official NFT sometime this summer. More details aren't yet available but Economic Secretary John Glen billed the token as a symbol of the "forward-looking approach" the country was taking toward crypto technologies.
The NFT will come as part of a broader effort to support financial technology, and crypto in particular. The UK government aims to create a "dynamic regulatory landscape" that welcomes the technology, according to Glen. It now plans legislation that will welcome stablecoins into the country's payment infrastructure, will mull the legal status of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and hopes to remove "disincentives" to investment funds that include crypto.
Chancellor @RishiSunak has asked @RoyalMintUK to create an NFT to be issued by the summer.
This decision shows the the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK. pic.twitter.com/cd0tiailBK
— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) April 4, 2022
The Financial Conduct Authority has already been experimenting through a regulatory sandbox, and plans its first in a series of policy "crypto-sprints" this May. The government is also forming a Cryptoasset Engagement Group that includes representatives from the FCA, Bank of England and business, with as many as eight meetings per year.
Glen was aware of the concerns surrounding crypto, such as the potential for scams, bootleg activity and environmental harms. However, he cast the NFT and similar projects as an opportunity to get "in on the ground floor" and thrive should crypto take off.
The NFT won't thrill critics who see the tokens as creating artificial scarcity, increasing emissions or otherwise wasting resources. However, it will signal the UK government's willingness to court the crypto industry. The country is clearly early to recreate its reputation as a financial hub in the digital realm.