The United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer has instructed the Royal Mint to create an NFT as “an emblem of the forward-looking approach”. Her Majesty’s Treasury says it will lead to cryptocurrencies and blockchains. The project has been announced in a speech by John Glen, the Treasury’s economic secretary, who said at a summit that more details about the mint’s currency would be forthcoming “very soon.”
While countries like Ukraine have issued NFTs before, this particular announcement feels a little different – first, it comes from one of the highest levels of the UK government. It is also believed to be carried out by the entity in charge of printing the country’s money.
That is not to say that British citizens should expect the government to replace the pound with HerMajesty’sCoin any time soon. The announcement’s complete lack of detail makes it easy to see it as just a PR exercise – a way for the Treasury to show that making the UK a hotbed of financial innovation is really serious and “on ground” with crypto (by, you know, announcing an NFT more than a year after Taco Bell came out with its own crypto token).
To be fair, it seems that the UK government is taking crypto seriously. Glen announced that the Treasury is asking a legal task force to consider the “legal status of decentralized autonomous organizations” (or DAOs). He also wraps up a lot of what the government is currently working on regarding crypto – the conversation lasts 21 minutes (although there is a lot of fluff), and you can watch it in full below.
Reuters does a good job breaking down the main components, but like a TL; DR: The UK Treasury is working to regulate some stablecoins (cryptocurrencies whose value is theoretically largely linked to the price of fiat currencies), will hold a lot of meetings around crypto regulation and is still working on its “regulatory sandbox” to help crypto companies” have products and services tested in a controlled environment”.
As for the Treasury crypto project, it’s hard to know what to expect. Will it be a collectible that crypto enthusiasts in the UK will want in their wallets? Or will it be just a single NFT (the announcement tweet somewhat implies that there will only be one) stored on a hardware wallet locked in Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London?
Frankly, that’s probably not the most important thing. While NFTs are bubbly (or at least were at one point), the future of crypto is likely to be shaped more by how countries with significant stakes in global finance choose to regulate them rather than any particular project — even if that project is from the Royal Mint.