Last week, wallet provider Blockchain became the first bitcoin company to take part in an official government trade mission.
CEO Peter Smith was one of 31 executives to take part in a trade delegation, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, to promote the UK’s FinTech businesses in Southeast Asia.
While the nation received 42% of Europe’s FinTech investment last year, trade body Innovate Finance want to capture even greater share of a market still dominated by Silicon Valley and predicted to be worth $46bn by 2020.
Cameron’s trade mission coincided with the release of the organisation’s ‘UK 2020′ manifesto which calls for the nation to create over 25 FinTech leaders “whether by IPO, global market share or by valuation”.
Alongside the key players in the FinTech ecosystem, Innovate Finance also counts bitcoin firms BitReserve, CoinFloor and Elliptic as members.
Though the government has mentioned bitcoin and blockchain technology in its rhetoric to date, Smith’s invitation is the most concrete evidence it is championing bitcoin businesses as part of its agenda.
Smith told CoinDesk:
“Our public policy team has been actively engaged with the Prime Ministers office, as they seek to learn about the technology, formulate policy and most importantly, encourage the industry here in the UK.”
The CEO said he was “honoured” to be part of the mission around Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
“The highlight was having the chance to explain bitcoin, and our company, to the Prime Minister while we flew between cities,” he added.
Though many of the delegates in attendance had heard of bitcoin, their understanding was limited, Smith said. One of the biggest take-aways from the trip, he said, was the need for better education – which can be something as simple as setting up a bitcoin wallet and receiving funds.
— Peter Smith (@OneMorePeter) July 30, 2015
Stimulating the economy
Under the proposed laws, bitcoin exchanges in the country will be required to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations, meanwhile companies will be able to opt in to consumer protection standards, coordinated with the help of the UKDCA and the British Standards Institution (BSI).
Unlike New York’s “inflexible” BitLicense, startups have praised the UK’s measures for their light touch. The FCA’s regulatory sandbox has proven particularly useful for many startups who cannot afford up-front compliance costs.
“The clarity and research evident in the Treasury’s recent publication on digital currencies demonstrates its true desire to get the details right, and to learn along with the industry in the process … This is in welcome contrast to the blunderbuss approaches we’ve seen in other jurisdictions.”
The government’s formal consultation on digital currencies is expected to begin this summer.