The UK Treasury Secretary has commissioned the Royal Mint to create an NFT to “emblem the forward-looking approach” that Her Majesty’s Treasury will be taking towards cryptocurrencies and blockchains. The project has been announced in a speech by John Glen, the Treasury’s business secretary, who said at a summit that more details about the mint’s coin would be announced “very soon”.
While countries like Ukraine have issued NFTs before, this particular announcement feels a little different – for one, it comes from one of the highest levels of UK government. It is also said to be carried out by the entity responsible for printing the country’s money.
This is not to say that British citizens should expect the government to replace the pound with HerMajesty’sCoin any time soon. The total lack of detail in the announcement makes it easy to see it as just a PR exercise – a way for the Treasury to show it’s really serious about making the UK a hotbed for financial innovation and using crypto “on the ground floor.” ‘ (by announcing an NFT more than a year after Taco Bell launched its own crypto token).
To be fair, it seems like the UK government is taking crypto seriously. Glen announced that the Treasury Department is asking a legal task force to review the “legal status of decentralized autonomous organizations” (or DAOs). He also summarizes a lot of what the government is currently working on in relation to crypto – the conversation is 21 minutes long (although there’s a lot of fuzz), and you can watch it in full below.
Reuters does a good job of breaking down the main components, but as TL;DR: The UK Treasury is working on regulating some stablecoins (cryptocurrencies whose value is theoretically largely tied to the price of fiat currencies). holds many meetings around crypto regulation and is still working on its “regulatory sandbox” to allow crypto companies to “test products and services in a controlled environment.”
As for the Treasury Department crypto project, it’s hard to know what to expect. Will it be a collector’s item that crypto enthusiasts across the UK will want in their wallets? Or will it just be a single NFT (the announcement tweet somewhat implies there will only be one) stored on a hardware wallet locked away in Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London?
Honestly, that’s probably not the important part. While NFTs are buoyant (or at least were at one point), the future of crypto will likely be shaped more by how countries with a large stake in global finance decide to regulate it than by any particular project — even if that project originates from the Royal Mint.