Rishi Sunak orders Royal Mint to jump on the NFT train Business

Last night Rishi Sunak drew ridicule when he ordered the Royal Mint to create its own so-called NFTs in a bid to re-gild the Treasury’s forward-thinking credentials.

The Chancellor said the 1,100-year-old Mint, which produces Britain’s coins and sells commemorative versions to mark special events, would sell the tokens as “the emblem of the forward-looking approach that the UK is determined to adopt”.

However, the move was quickly criticized as a gimmick at a time when Mr Sunak faces pressure over his handling of the cost of living crisis and his wife’s stake in tech firm Infosys.

Simon French, an economist at Panmure Gordon, suggested the announcement was “three days late”, framed as an April Fool’s joke, while independent economist Julian Jessop wrote: “What can do well?”

Mauricio Magaldi, of financial services consultancy 11:FS, said: “The news that the Treasury will launch NFTs later this year seems like nothing more than a strategic PR game.”

Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s shadow economic secretary, called the move a “misjudged trick” days after energy prices rose and National Insurance rose.

NFTs use the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to confer ownership of digital items such as virtual artwork or clothing. Their sales have exploded over the past two years, reaching £19 billion in 2021.

The British Museum and major football clubs have joined the craze by selling their own tokens.

However, the industry has also been plagued by scams and cyberattacks, and has been criticized for the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, which rely on power-hungry computers.

The Mint, founded in 886 and once headed by Sir Isaac Newton, said the move was a “natural progression”.

“The Royal Mint is one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-end collectibles, which makes it a natural progression for us,” he said. “By creating NFTs, we plan to help customers own digital collectibles securely and reliably, while engaging new audiences with The Royal Mint.”

It came as Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned that cryptocurrency is the “new front line for scammers”.

He told the Stop Scams conference yesterday [Monday] that crypto is “an opportunity for the outright criminal”.

“You just have to ask the question: how do people who commit ransomware attacks usually demand payment? The answer is crypto.

The Treasury unveiled a series of measures on Monday which it says would show Britain is open to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, amid criticism that companies are leaving the UK in a regime. strict regulations.

Mr Sunak said: “My ambition is to make the UK a global hub for crypto asset technology, and the steps we have outlined today will help ensure businesses can invest, innovate and grow. in this country.”

NFTs are typically bought and sold using cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, which would make any sale among the first transactions a government agency has made using the technology.

Dom Hallas, executive director of start-up group Coalition for a Digital Economy, said: “It’s easy to scoff at a fanciful political announcement. But it’s an important signal to the global decentralized finance community that Britain is open to their growth here while at the same time in Europe regulators are talking about a crackdown.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-04 18:52:12

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