The United Kingdom Treasury yesterday announced that it would be launching an inquiry into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as well as the underlying blockchain technology. The investigation will involve MPs who will be investigating whether bitcoin and altcoin technologies pose a risk to central banking – the investigation is largely considered to be a forewarning for an inevitable attempt to crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Whichever way this will play out is another story altogether.
The probe expects to draw out a distinct conclusion that outlines both the benefits and the risks that come with cryptocurrencies – this will be prerequisite to talks on how it should be regulated in the long run.
To put everything into perspective, the chair of the Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan pointed out that “People are becoming increasingly aware of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, but they may not be aware that they are currently unregulated in the UK, and there is no protection for individual investors.”
The Treasury Committee’s probe follows the great deal of attention that cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin, have been attracting in the past year. The situation seems to have gotten out of hand with the increased volatility of some of the cryptocurrencies’ prices fluctuating wildly in very short periods of time and experts failing to agree on the causes or even on predictions for the future prices or value for said cryptocurrencies. The Treasury Committee, therefore, intends to study how overseas governments have gone about the issue and pick out a few points from them.
South Korea, for instance, recently introduced new regulations that restricted people from anonymous cryptocurrency trading in a bid to protect investors in the country from scams. This particular move seems to be the focal point of the Treasury Committee’s yet to be unveiled regulation-based effort with Ms. Morgan clarifying that ‘the inquiry will explore how to achieve a balance between regulating digital currencies to provide adequate protection for consumers and businesses whilst not stifling innovation.’
“We will also examine the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies and the technology underpinning them, how they can create innovative opportunities, and to what extent they could disrupt the economy and replace traditional means of payment,” Ms. Morgan continued.