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UK Minister Commits to Greater Crypto Industry Engagement as New Regulation Looms

Sylvain SONNET

U.K.'s financial-services minister, Andrew Griffith, on Wednesday pledged greater engagement with the crypto sector as he plans new post-Brexit laws.

Last April, Rishi Sunak – then finance minister and now prime minister – said he wanted to make the country a crypto hub, but a "consultation," or a document that is put out for discussion, on how to govern the financial technology is now overdue.

“My undertaking is to have six roundtables with the sector with a variety of sector participants during 2023,” Griffith, a member of Sunak's Conservative Party, told lawmakers at Wednesday's parliamentary debate on regulating crypto.

“We'll bring forward timely, sensible and balanced regulation in order to allow the safe use of this technology,” while ensuring regulatory clarity and facilitating financial-technology investment, Griffith added.

Griffith declined to set a date for a policy document on crypto rules using new powers contained in the Financial Services and Markets Bill, previously promised before Christmas 2022. He said it would be “a matter of certainly weeks, not months,” and added that “sometimes that consultative process makes things a little longer than one might wish in a fast-moving domain.”

The U.K. crypto industry, which has been waiting for regulatory clarity, is keen to know the rules under which it will operate. Griffith acknowledged the importance of speed, as he sought to address concerns about slow registration processes by officials at the Financial Conduct Authority.

“I'm very interested, as we seek to have an agile proportionate financial regulatory system, that our regulators move at the right pace,” he said. “We can't have a financial system that's competitive internationally, if it has slow latency, if it doesn't operate at speed.”

Lisa Cameron, a lawmaker from the rival Scottish National Party who is chairwoman of a cross-party parliamentary crypto group, said she supported the government’s vision, but sought more clarity on the timing.

“I would really urge that the regulatory framework is taken forward at pace, because I think we need to protect consumers first and foremost,” Cameron said. “It's been almost a year since the government set out its landmark vision to make the U.K. a global hub for crypto investment.”

Read more: UK ‘Fully Behind’ Stablecoin for Wholesale Settlements, Treasury Official Says