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cryptocurrency blockchain fintech United Kingdom

The U.K.’s Cryptoassets Task Force has met for the first time this week, as the group moves to “develop thinking and policy” on how the United Kingdom should approach issues of cryptocurrency and blockchain.

The group, which was announced in March by Chancellor Philip Hammond, forms a major part of the U.K. government’s Fintech Sector Strategy, which carries the stated mission of making the United Kingdom “the best place for Fintech business.”

Details of their first meeting were posted on the Gov.uk website, which spelled out areas of agreement around the group’s aims and objectives. These include looking at whether new rules or regulations may be required around the space, as well as looking at the effect of cryptocurrencies on the financial system, the benefits and “challenges” of blockchain for the wider finance sector, and how policy could support realizing the benefits of the technology.

The task force draws on expertise from the U.K.’s main financial regulators, with representatives from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England among those driving forward the approach.

Dave Ramsden, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, said the group will liaise with Treasury and FCA, as well as drawing on the bank’s own resources, in developing an effective response to these objectives.

"This task force will enable us to work closely with the Treasury and the FCA to explore how the opportunities posed by these technologies can be realized, while also tackling the risks arising from cryptoassets.”

The group is also expected to take representations from other stakeholders, including academics, investors, consumer representatives and trade organizations. Its first report is expected in Q3, with a roundtable discussion event scheduled for July.

It comes as the latest move by the U.K. government and the Bank of England in support of blockchain technology. In March, the bank announced tests over a real-time gross settlement system powered by blockchain. The bank concluded that while the technology was not yet “sufficiently mature,” it was nonetheless important to ensure any new system was compatible with distributed ledger technology with a view to the future.

“Although the bank has concluded that distributed ledger technology (DLT) is not yet sufficiently mature to provide the core for the next generation of RTGS, it places a high priority on ensuring that the new service is capable of interfacing with DLT as and when it is developed in the wider sterling markets.”