Cryptoassets: Regulation — [Christina Rees in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:43 am on 7th September 2022.

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Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 10:43 am, 7th September 2022

Absolutely. One of the issues, which the hon. Gentleman raised in his speech, is how pervasive the technology has become since 2008. We are still looking at the different applications and different levels of the technology, as I outlined at the start of my speech, both within financial services and more broadly within Government. He mentioned the issues in Estonia and in the economy as a whole. The technology has been around for a while, but it has many tentacles that have spread in many different ways through countries and international economies.

The hon. Gentleman will also know that in addition to that growth, as he and other hon. Members have mentioned, there has been substantial volatility. Notwithstanding those market fluctuations, the potential for DLT technology underpinning cryptoassets remains powerful in many ways. Across the world, NFTs are entering common parlance. Abena Oppong-Asare talked about one that could have a revolutionary impact on the creative industries.

Blockchain technology is being used in healthcare to store patients’ medical records securely; in housing to record property rights; and in supply chains to track the path and safety of food throughout the farm-to-table journey. In Government, we are developing opportunities here in the UK to use distributed ledger technology for customs and international trade, to ease the import of goods. DLT has the potential to change how our financial markets work, too. That is why new have started work to understand how it might be applied to a UK sovereign debt instrument.

Even the fundamental architecture of the internet may undergo changes as Web3 becomes more popular, with blockchain offering the potential to drive a more decentralised, user-owned ecosystem. The innovation powered by DLT could spill across society, well beyond the scope of today’s debate, which rightly focuses on financial services.

As crypto technologies grow in significance, the UK Government are seeking ways to achieve global competitive advantage for the United Kingdom. We want to become the country of choice for those looking to create, innovate and build in the crypto space. We are already the leading European fintech hub, second only to the US worldwide. By making this country a hospitable place for crypto technologies, we can attract investment, generate new jobs, benefit from tax revenues, create a wave of groundbreaking new products and services, and bridge the current position of UK financial services into a new era.