After the United States and Germany, the United Kingdom is also looking at the potential regulation of Bitcoin companies. The matter was at the center of a debate held this Wednesday (4) at 10 Downing Street, the famous house in London that hosts the government’s headquarters.
The meeting was attended by several technology companies operating in the finance field, British regulators and government members. “The attendees ranged from crowdfunding companies to payment services. There were also several representatives from the treasury, the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority], the Number 10 Policy Unit, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and a few of the smaller banks”, the co-founder of the soon to be launched virtual currency exchange BitPrice said to Coindesk.
According to Tom Robinson, the hosts of the meeting mentioned cryptocurrency in their introductory speech as an “exciting new area of financial innovation, but one that faces some regulatory issues”. However, the need of regulation that can guide the UK-based companies is slowing down some processes.
Robinson highlights the example of Germany and the USA, where a lot of startups arose after some guidelines were made public. “We think it should be appropriate legislation, but we also think it should be put in place fairly rapidly, otherwise the UK is going to lose out“, BitPrice’s co-founder adds, revealing that he felt quite optimistic after the meeting.
The FCA said that the institutions is actively studying virtual currencies and the regulation that must apply to them. Robinson states that “the very broad point the FCA made was that it needs to balance the concerns and the security of consumers against the wish to increase competition in the financial services sector and to encourage innovation”.
A spokesperson from the Financial Conduct Authority revealed that, “whilst the FCA does not regulate Bitcoins, businesses providing services related to Bitcoins, or other digital currencies, should consider whether they are carrying on regulated activities. As you would expect, the FCA does watch new developments in the market“.
One of the things that might change with regulation is the problems that banks still have when faced with a cryptocurrency-related business. “The regulators’ current point of view is that it’s up to the banks – they can make a commercial decision not to work with a company. Although, companies at the meeting made the point that banks are making these ‘commercial decisions’ because of the regulatory framework imposed on them by the regulators. That framework should be changed”, Robinson explained.
It looks like the regulation train is about to leave its initial station. Destination: Bitcoinland.