A group of MPs have called for the appointment of a dedicated “crypto tsar” to oversee plans to turn the UK into a digital asset hub today, as stark divisions emerge in parliament over the future direction and role of the country’s crypto industry.
In a new report, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Crypto and Digital Assets claimed the industry had the potential to “significantly transform” the UK’s financial services industry and the “way we deal with money”.
Among a host of recommendations the MPs have called for the appointment of a “crypto tsar” to “ensure a coordinated approach” across government, as well as firing warning shots at ministers that the sluggish pace of regulation in the UK.
“Other jurisdictions are making significant headway in delivering legal and regulatory certainty and there is a real risk of the UK being left behind by more advanced and more cryptocurrency and digital asset friendly regulated markets overseas,” the report warned. “The government must move within a finite window of opportunity within the next 12-18 months to ensure early leadership within this sector.”
The EU’s recent regulatory framework, the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, rolled out earlier this year was cited as an example of other markets surging ahead of the UK.
An overarching strategy for the direction of the sector and further clarity on whether ministers intended to drop existing rules onto the sector or draw up new ones were among the other recommendations from the group.
The calls come as ministers prepare to bring the sector within the remit of the City’s watchdogs this year under powers granted by the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament.
City minister Andrew Griffith has said the UK could draw up specific laws in the next 12 months to enable the clamp down by regulators.
The new report today signals a wide schism opening in parliament over the potential and opportunity of crypto.
The influential Treasury Select Committee last month riled top figures in the sector as they called for the industry to be regulated in the same way as gambling, claiming that “retail trading in unbacked crypto more closely resembles gambling than a financial service”.
“Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have no intrinsic value and serve no useful social purpose, while consuming large amounts of energy and being used by criminals in scams, fraud and money laundering,” the group warned.