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Fresh from the announcement that the UK government was setting up a “crypto task force” to look into the risks and benefits of cryptocurrency and all things blockchain, British minister John Glen MP has revealed to reporters that provided the government gets regulation right, they would welcome a “flourishing” cryptocurrency exchange in London.

Governments everywhere are trying to balance the risks of cryptocurrency speculation with the growth opportunities which blockchain technologies provide. For Glen the issue is, “how do we regulate or not, how do we enable or not, based on the blend of opportunities and risks that may exist in this new technology”.

Agreeing with Bank of England governor Mark Carney that the current size of the crypto-economy poses no risk to the broader financial system, Glen told journalists that the government was “agnostic” on cryptocurrencies and wanted to find “the right level of regulation if that’s appropriate”.

Glen acts as “City Minister” for the UK, the government official ultimately responsible for financial services in the country. Despite Britain’s speciality in finance, thus far there are no major British-based cryptocurrency exchanges. Glen believes that provided the UK gets the regulation right, there could be a “stable, flourishing cryptocurrency exchange in the City of London”.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond yesterday announced an investigatory taskforce so the government could “manage the risks around Crypto assets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology”. The taskforce will include representatives from all major financial institutions, including the Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority.

On the timeline for the group’s recommendations, Glen expected them to return “in short order” without anything being “kicked into the grass”. Any subsequent regulation must come as a consequence of deliberations which are “appropriate — not really cautious, but proportionate”.  

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