Matt Hancock, a British Member of Parliament (MP), representing the Conservative Party, gave a speech yesterday at the London Blockchain Conference, emphasizing his belief that blockchain will have a “monumental impact” on people’s lives. The UK government publicized a transcript of the speech, which was delivered at the Law Society.
Mr. Hancock, who serves as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has pointed the enormous untapped potential for distributed ledger technology to make government services more accessible and efficient. In addition to the government services, the MP singled out two other areas that would benefit from blockchain implementation – the financial and legal sectors.
The UK government has been paying close attention to blockchain technology for quite some time, trying to establish reasonable regulations, which would enable its citizens to safely use digital currencies. The talk of Mr. Hancock provides an optimistic insight into the plans of UK government to integrate blockchain technology into society. Countries worldwide have been adopting different approaches to crypto, ranging from strict regulations in Mexico and India to a softer approach in countries like Japan, where, despite increasing institutional attention, digital currencies are thriving. The speech of the MP gives us hope that the UK will choose the latter path.
He began with listing the recent innovation by the UK to promote the growth of Fintech sector, which include a variety of new measures, including establishment of the Cryptoassets taskforce, publication of a national robust Fintech strategy and a new global Fintech regulatory sandbox.
The MP went on to discuss the variety of other possible blockchain applications, mentioning that, “The World Food Programme is running a pilot in a Jordanian refugee camp, where over 10,000 Syrian refugees can buy food from local shops with merely a scan of their eye. There is no need for cash, credit cards or paper; the transactions are instead recorded on the blockchain. And blockchain-based crypto assets are now being developed to reward solar electricity generation, to support the provision of clean water, and to provide innovative models of charitable giving. So the benefits are clear and we want to see them here in the UK.”
According to him, the UK government has already invested some £10m, supporting blockchain projects in sectors, such as clean water provision, electoral systems and solar energy. As is the case with any emerging technology, regulators are slow to keep up with the innovations. Mr. Hancock seems determined to ensure the government response is completely opposite of the regulatory crackdown, which is what happened in some countries already.
The MP has said that, “Just as the internet is not governed entirely by individual nations or corporations, it is unlikely that there will ever be a uniform governance model for blockchain technology. But I am determined that the UK should play its part in making sure blockchain technology is developed in a way that benefits us all. I want our regulators to carry out their essential roles – preventing harm, providing certainty to businesses and trust to citizens – without stifling innovation.“
Mr. Hancock certainly seems like a breath of fresh air among the regulators, understanding that such advanced and decentralized technology cannot be fully regulated as is the case with traditional currencies. Let‘s hope he is successful in implementing the policies and the UK will adopt cryptocurrencies in a way that profits everyone involved.
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