This is an editorial opinion piece by Bitcoms, a British writer and Bitcoiner.
“I joked on stage that until Bitcoin goes, I don’t think I’m from Edinburgh – I think I’m from Twitter,” the writer said. Allen Farrington. “I was worried, looking forward, that Britain might be one of the last places to really take this issue seriously.”
But sit down with me between the opening sessions Bitcoin Collective conference in his home city, Farrington is feeling positive. “I think the event is really impressive,” he said. “Seeing all the effort that has been put into this and seeing all the UK Bitcoiners who are also excited about it and have come in, it is really encouraging.”
He has a point: with dozens of top international speakers, an impressive array of homegrown exhibitors, and a real buzz created by hundreds of attendees, it’s hard not to feel energized by this new but guaranteed UK conference.
UK is Bitcoin not human land
But Farrington isn’t too far off. “Regulation wise, it’s pretty grim,” he said. “I know quite a few people who have decided not to start Bitcoin companies here. It’s not even that the regulations are bad. The problem in the UK is just uncertainty. No one seems to know what you’re really allowed to do here and how it relates to current financial regulation.”
These remarks were then repeated on stage by Alan Higgins, Chief Investment Officer at Coutts & Co. of the United Kingdom, one of the world’s oldest banks managing the assets of high net worth investors. “It’s just not clear what we can and can’t do… it’s not clear on regulation,” he explains. “And if we get it wrong: the fines are huge,” he added, succinctly explaining why even the UK’s more adventurous financial institutions are hesitant to get into Bitcoin.
Btrust Board Member and CEO Fedi Obi Nwosu give me some insight into why UK regulation is so icy and the environment so unfriendly. From 2013 to 2021, when running the UK bitcoin-only exchange Coinfloor, Nwosu saw “more and more mood music around proper and reasonable regulations being put in place. However, the people who are pushing for it – I’ll call them progressive Bitcoin from the regulatory world and the political sphere – tend to eventually find that this is so powerful that they need to be a part of it. its. So they will leave and one by one join Bitcoin companies, or crypto companies. The end result is… you are left with people who either didn’t get it, or got it but came to the conclusion that it was a net negative number. And that leads to a more hostile regulatory environment.”
Another problem is that the relevant minor UK regulation already in place does not address the most important issues. “My big darling is following regulation that is generally all about anti-money laundering but doesn’t really protect consumers,” explains Danny Scott, CEO of British exchange Coincorner, pointed out that major exchanges are allowed to “add every cryptocurrency and token you can think of and list them all – that is one casino”. Scott told me he wanted to see the regulation “protect consumers from ‘pump and dump’, LUNAsor companies that are not legitimate companies. You need protection from them, not from a company that buys and sells Bitcoin.”
So what is the likely direction of regulation? Dr. Lisa Cameron, a UK Member of Parliament who attended both days of the conference, led the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Digital Assets and Cryptocurrencies. “We sent the team the text and over the next two months we will have a series of oral proof sessions,” she told me. “We’ll then put it together to make some initial recommendations to the government in January, and we want to publish it in the new year.”
“It’s not Bitcoin specific,” she explained, but “an investigation into the UK government’s aim to make the UK a crypto hub… We’ll be looking at CBDCs, stablecoins. and also look at world best practices, because… post-Brexit, the UK can create its own regulatory framework and develop its own specific niche. “
While the scope of APPG may sound too broad and a bit primitive, at least the Edinburgh conference gave Dr Cameron the opportunity to discuss issues on and off the stage with Bitcoin veterans, such as like Samson Mow, their new Jan3 project aims to educate politicians and administrators. He draws the same kind of distinction that Danny Scott would like to see the authorities appreciate. “I do not believe that Bitcoin requires any regulation. It’s just money,” Mow told me. “I think this is going to be the trend where Bitcoin is recognized as money, it’s not regulated, but all cryptocurrencies will be regulated. You can also add another layer of regulation to stablecoins. So I think having a distinction between these three groups is crucial for any regulator trying to establish any meaningful regulation.”
Will the UK’s APPG reflect the constructive efforts of some US politiciansblatantly spying on the EU hostile approach, or make another song completely still be watched. But what seems certain is that – at least for now – Britain is a land without Bitcoin, not only from a legal point of view but also a political and even cultural point of view.
“I see the UK being caught between the US and Europe. I think the European Union will move on the CBDC route and the Americas will simply head towards Bitcoin,” Jan3’s Doogie Ewing speak to me. “In the UK we’re in the middle and I think we can go either way.”
Allen Farrington has long viewed the UK similarly: neither leaning towards nor away from Bitcoin. “I guess it could be worse, right? It could be the EU,” he said, referring to the bloc’s publicity Bitcoin’s hostile stance. “It’s taken very seriously in the United States, I think partly because it’s a natural extension of Silicon Valley and there’s probably no place in the world where freedom is so deeply ingrained in the culture.. . it’s a natural way to look for Bitcoin,” he said. “On the other end of the spectrum, there is Central America, West Africa, Southeast Asia, where really the physical circumstances drive people towards Bitcoin. I worried for a while that the UK doesn’t really have any of this. It doesn’t have any of these reasons why it might take off. “
UK Bitcoin is a ray of hope
But Farrington is starting to see the UK outlook more positively. “What it’s going to come down to is exactly this kind of grassroots effort,” he said, alluding to the conference. “That’s why I was so frustrated a year ago but why am I so encouraged now.”
Danny Scott is similarly enthralled by what he’s seen on the ground across the UK over the past six months or so. “We’ve seen a sizable increase in small communities,” he said, pointing to “30 UK meetups that are now starting to take shape… they’re talking about Bitcoin and trying to trying to help develop Bitcoin adoption in their regions. Bitcoin is a community project and a community thing, so it’s great that we’re starting to see that now in the UK.”
Obi Nwosu has noted similar positive trends. “We have seen this organic increase – which started in 2017/2018 – continue to grow and the grassroots support for Bitcoin in the UK Bitcoin community is growing stronger and stronger. more,” he said. “And that’s really exciting because any change that happens like that tends to be very hard, very strong, very hard to break. So I think the path to Bitcoin’s success is to keep doubling that amount. Talk to the regulators, try to explain, try to support their decision-making, but not to build a strategy on them.”
Doogie Ewing also sees the Bitcoin community in the UK as pivotal to getting the country on the right track. “I think we have a responsibility as Bitcoiners to help raise awareness of the use case for Bitcoin, how it helps empower individual sovereignty,” he said. “And once we can educate people, I think the weight will come from people to push the Bitcoin standard in the UK and towards the Americas more, and maybe away from the CBDC that I think is coming. in Europe.”
Bitcoin Collective CEO Jordan Walker also voiced similar sentiments. “The conference was a great success, but like Bitcoin, this is about the decentralized but collective effort of everyone in the space doing their bit around the country to educate, inform and inspire others about Bitcoin. It gives people hope in times of financial despair.”
The consensus is clear: if the hope of a Bitcoin-friendly UK comes to fruition, a concerted effort from the country’s Bitcoiners will be crucial.
This is a guest post by Bitcoms. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.