UK to Launch Cryptocurrency Task Force

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will announce a task force on Thursday to exploit the technology underpinning cryptoassets, such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as part of new plans to help fintech companies to find more customers.

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said he was committed to helping fintech grow and flourish by taking a series of domestic steps and forging links overseas.

“As part of that, a new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” Hammond said in a statement ahead of a fintech conference hosted by the finance ministry.

Investors have flocked to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin despite wild price swings.

Regulators have warned that investors could lose all their money, but see promise in the blockchain technology that underpins cryptoassets.

Britain’s announcement comes after finance ministers from the Group of 20 Economies (G20) were unable this week to find enough consensus for global regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Britain has become a major center for fintech and wants to reassure the sector of its support ahead of the country’s departure from the European Union next March.

The EU has also stepped up efforts to make itself more attractive as a location for fintech firms.

Hammond said the fintech strategy would include schemes to pilot “robo regulation”, or the use of software by fintech firms to comply with regulation to save time and money.

New industry standards will enable fintech firms to team up with banks more easily to offer complex services and reach more customers, he said.

Industry and government will create “shared platforms” to remove barriers faced by fintech firms setting up new systems, Hammond said.

Hammond and Scott Morrison, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, will sign a “fintech bridge” agreement to help UK-based fintech firms sell products and services in Australia and promote regulatory cooperation.

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