The Royal Mint has been given the task of creating an NFT to represent the “forward-looking approach” Her Majesty’s Treasury believes it will take towards cryptocurrencies and blockchains. John Glen, Economic Secretary to Treasury, announced the project in a speech. He said that more information about the mint’s location would be forthcoming “very soon”.
Although NFTs have been issued by countries such as Ukraine before, this announcement feels different. For one, it comes from the highest level of the British government. It is also expected to be executed by the entity responsible for printing the country’s currency.
However, this does not mean that the government will replace the pound by HerMajesty’sCoin anytime soon. It is easy to dismiss the announcement as a PR exercise. The treasury wants to demonstrate that it is serious about making the UK a hub of financial innovation and get “in the ground floor with crypto” (by announcing an NFT more than a year after Taco Bell released its own crypto token).
It seems that the UK government takes crypto seriously, to be fair. Glen stated that the Treasury has asked a legal task team to examine the “legal status decentralized autonomous organisations” (or DAOs). The talk is about crypto and includes a summary of the government’s current work. It is long, with a fair amount of fluff. You can view it in full here.
Reuters does a great job breaking down the main components. However, a TL:DR: The UK’s treasury works on regulation of some stablecoins (cryptocurrencies whose price is, in theory at least, tied to fiat currencies). It will be holding a lot of meetings about crypto regulation and is still developing its “regulatory sandbox” that allows crypto companies to “test products and service in a controlled environment.”
It’s difficult to predict what the future holds for the Treasury’s crypto project. It will be a collectible that crypto-lovers across the UK will treasure in their wallets. Will it be just one NFT? (The announcement tweet suggests that there will be only one) and stored in a hardware wallet at Buckingham Palace or Tower of London?
This is probably not the most important part. NFTs may be buzzy, or at least they were at one time. However, crypto’s future will depend on how countries with large stakes in global finance decide to regulate them.