Cryptoassets: Regulation — [Christina Rees in the Chair]

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am conscious of time, and I have a few more things to say. I have mentioned a few of the known risks that we face, and they present real challenges. We will, however, be better placed to shape the sector and lead it to social and economic good if we actively engage with it from the outset, and that is what the Government are doing. The role of the Government is to be on the front foot to achieve a global advantage. To do that, we in Government must provide a solid framework, so that decision makers can take decisions in a risky environment, and we are bringing forward a number of reforms, through carefully tailored regulation. Informed by the sector, and after a consultation that is open to anyone, we will create a dynamic regulatory landscape; that is how we will tackle issues ranging from fraud to volatility and environmental considerations.

The Government are legislating to bring certain stablecoins, where they are used for payment, within the regulatory perimeter by expanding the payments and e-money regulatory frameworks. Increased competition between stablecoins and existing UK payment systems could lead to lower costs and improved services in the long run. Through the Financial Services and Markets Bill, we will build into our regulatory framework an ability to harness those benefits of stablecoins. At the same time, we will protect consumers by ensuring that the face value of stablecoins is backed by the underlying funds, and that consumer funds will be safeguarded if a stablecoin provider becomes insolvent.

In the first instance, we wanted to focus on areas of immediate potential and concern, but the market has changed sufficiently for us to look at regulating a broader set of cryptoassets. Earlier this year, we committed to consulting on this broader regulation, including the trading of unbacked cryptoassets such as Bitcoin. We will continue dynamic engagement with industry; for example, the FCA’s recent CryptoSprints brought together over 100 industry participants to discuss future regulation. We know how important it is that there remains strong co-ordination between the UK authorities as we develop the regime; that is why the Cryptoassets Taskforce, launched in 2018, continues to have a vital role in informing where regulation can drive forward UK objectives.

As we build a regulatory regime that delivers safe, sustainable and—I hope—value-creating innovation, we will ensure that we are at the cutting edge of legal innovation, so that the UK has a strong legal foundation for this technology. Following a request from the Government, the Law Commission recently published new proposals for reforming property law relating to digital assets and smart contracts. The Government have asked the Law Commission to consider the legal status of decentralised autonomous organisations, which the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire referred to. They are a new form of online, decentralised organisational structure. We are exploring ways of enhancing the competitiveness of the UK tax system to encourage further development of the cryptoasset market in the United Kingdom.

We are undertaking this work because we have a choice: the UK can either be a spectator as this technology transforms aspects of life, or we can become the best place in the world to start and scale crypto technologies. The Government choose the latter course. We want the UK to be the dominant global hub for crypto technologies, and so will build on the strengths of our thriving fintech sector, creating new jobs, developing groundbreaking new products and services—

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).