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UK Launches Cryptoassets Task Force

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Britain announced a new cryptoassets taskforce on Thursday, that it hopes will help manage the risks surrounding such tokens and harness the potential benefits of their underlying distributed ledger technology or blockchain, as part of its larger strategy for the Fintech sector.

"The Fintech Sector Strategy will include a Cryptoassets Task Force consisting of HM Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority," the HM Treasury said in a statement.

"This will help the UK to be at the forefront of harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology, while guarding against potential risks."

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney recently said he will not call Bitcoin and its peers cryptocurrencies as they do not have the qualities of a currency. Instead, he chose to call them "cryptoassets."

The task force is part of the UK government's first Fintech Sector Strategy that also includes "robo-regulation" pilot schemes and a new UK-Australia "fintech bridge" to help UK firms expand internationally.

The fintech sector contributes GBP 6.6 billion annually to the UK economy, and employs over 60,000 people across 1,600 companies, the HM Treasury said. The sector received a record GBP 2.1 billion investment in the first three quarters of this financial year ending March 31.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will unveil the strategy at the government's second International Fintech Conference on Thursday.

"I am committed to helping the sector grow and flourish, and our ambitious Sector Strategy sets out how we will ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of the digital revolution," Hammond said.

"Robo-regulation" pilot schemes are meant to make it faster and easier for fintech firms to follow complex regulations, the HM Treasury said. Special software would be built that would automatically ensure fintech firms follow the rules, saving them time and money.

The government will also appoint three new Fintech Regional Envoys to spread the benefits of fintech across the country and will create a set of industry standards which will enable fintech firms to more easily partner with existing banks.

Further, the strategy envisages the creation of "shared platforms" to help new, small fintech firms to grow their business and attract new customers. A scheme for fintech firms to draw talent from Britain's diverse workforce is also part of the plan.

The UK-Australia "fintech bridge" will help to open up a new important market for UK fintech firms wanting to expand internationally by selling their products and services in Australia. The program is also meant to help the two countries to harmonize policies related to fintech and increase regulatory cooperation.

As part of the "fintech bridge," fintech industry bodies from both countries - Innovate Finance and FinTech Australia - will hold regular business summits to advise governments on how best to support the sector, the HM Treasury said.

"It offers an excellent opportunity to work together to share industry best practices, strengthen understanding and knowledge of each other's fintech markets, and drive progressive regulatory approaches to help our fintech sector grow," Charlotte Crosswell, CEO, Innovate Finance said.

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