Chancellor Rishi Sunak has instructed the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token (NFT) later this year as an “emblem” of the UK’s goal to become a “global cryptoasset technology hub”.
John Glen, economic secretary for the Treasury, confirmed the department’s upcoming NFT venture as part of a wider cryptocurrency push, with the government unveiling plans to legislate stablecoins – a cryptocurrency that is pegged to a fiat currency.
The move could see stablecoins brought “within the payments regulatory perimeter” and used as an alternative means of payment, the government said. It comes amid growing regulatory scrutiny of the cryptocurrency space in the UK.
“I’m announcing today the chancellor has asked the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token,” Glen said at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London on Monday.
“There is a genuine opportunity to build on our strengths in fintech seize the capitalist energy, which has already made UK financial services what it is and use it to unleash the potential of crypto technologies.”
The Treasury said on Twitter: This decision shows the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK.”
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 Treasury is yet to describe the exact image or form that the Royal Mint’s NFT will be, or the extent to which the department plans to raise funds with digital token sales.
It is also unclear what purpose – if any – the Royal Mint NFT will serve.
Despite Glen’s claim, there is some scepticism over the actual impact that the Treasury’s NFT will have.
“On its own, the Royal Mint’s planned NFT is more a symbol rather than a significant asset in itself—much like a commemorative coin,” said Amrit Dhami, associate analyst at GlobalData.
The UK will not be the first nation to adopt some form of official blockchain technology.
Since its surge in popularity, several governments have entered the world of crypto, including Lithuania, which issued the world’s first state-backed digital collectable coin in 2020.
Last year, El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender in a move that sparked protests and saw Bitcoin ATMs set on fire.
Earlier this year, Ukraine announced its plans to issue NFTs of its own as part of a fundraising effort to help deal with the invasion from the Russian military.