Brexit boost: Matt Hancock outlines UK opportunity for ‘dynamic’ crypto regime outside EU

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Brexit remains a key issue of debate in the UK as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss prepares to hold fresh talks with the EU over Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s political situation is in chaos after the DUP’s Paul Givan resigned as First Minister as part of his party’s protests against the Protocol. Ahead of Friday’s talks with Maroš Šefčovič, Ms Truss described how “fixing” the Northern Ireland Protocol was “an absolute priority” for her. She added: “We have a shared responsibility with the EU to work towards solutions as quickly as possible that deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.”

There has also been debate in recent weeks surrounding the economic benefits of Brexit.

One area of the economy that hasn’t been in focus is the world of cryptocurrencies, but Matt Hancock tells Express.co.uk that the technology could provide the UK with fresh opportunities and that Brexit could aid innovation.

When asked if crypto can play a role in a post-Brexit economy, he said: “Yes. We now don’t have to just take the EU’s restrictive regulatory regime and instead can design our own that is more dynamic.”

He added: “Crypto is already here and in use. It’s expanding rapidly in the UK and around the world. We don’t have a choice as to whether it is happening. The choice we have is how we shape it best to benefit people.

“Britain has long prospered by being the home of financial innovation. Hundreds of years ago we were the first place in the world to establish a central bank.

“In the Eighties we pioneered the eurobond market, and we have been the leading place in the world to trade currency for decades. So it is natural that with a liberal regulatory system we should be the home to cryptocurrencies too.”

Supporters of crypto technology say that it can help democratise the economy by creating a market that is accessible to anyone.

They also believe the technology can revolutionise the way the economy works, eliminating much of the bureaucratic barriers to trade.

But critics fear that crypto essentially creates a deregulated market, and that assets such as Bitcoin are volatile, and are therefore risky ventures.

Mr Hancock adds that the UK would need to take a “regulatory approach”.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock ‘would consider’ investing in Bitcoin

He tells Express.co.uk: “For example, to ensure adverts are not misleading, and to ensure the exchanges are sound and don’t rip people off.

“A regulatory regime should be liberal, so that people can freely buy and sell crypto assets, but provide that underlying assurance that the markets are fair.”

Mr Hancock isn’t alone – former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has also suggested crypto could give the UK a post-Brexit advantage.

In December, he told City AM: “I personally think the momentum is now unstoppable. We need to move quickly and effectively to secure London’s position.

“If we don’t watch carefully we will find some surprising people are ahead of us.

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“Most institutions know that whether we like it or don’t like it – it is going to happen. It’s not something anybody running a major business in financial services can hide from.”

Crypto is also stirring debate within the EU.

Last month, one of the bloc’s leading financial regulators said the EU should ban the energy-intensive system used to mine Bitcoin.

In an interview with the Financial Times, vice-chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Erik Thedéen called for a bloc-wide ban on “proof of work” crypto mining, saying the industry’s energy usage was becoming a “national issue” in his native Sweden.

He said: “Bitcoin is now a national issue for Sweden because of the amount of renewable energy devoted to mining.

“It would be an irony if the wind power generated on Sweden’s long coastline would be devoted to Bitcoin mining.”



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