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Chancellor to unveil new cryptoassets task force as part of new fintech strategy

Mr Hammond is also expected to announce details on proposed “robo-regulation”.

a man in a suit holding a red bag

This morning, at the Treasury’s second International Fintech Conference, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will lay out the UK government’s first ever Fintech Sector Strategy.

Chief among the new proposals is a Cryptoassets Task Force consisting of HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the FCA. Together, they will look to harness the benefits of the underlying technology while guarding against potential risks.

“From the square mile in London to Scotland’s Silicon Glen, the UK leads the world in harnessing the power of fintech as we create an economy fit for the future,” said the Chancellor (pictured), in a written statement.

“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. As part of that, a new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around Cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology.”

Iqbal Gandham, UK managing director of eToro, an online trading and investing service which secured a $100m investment yesterday, called the taskforce an important step forward.

“A sensible review into the risks and case uses for cryptos is a vital stage in cementing the legitimacy of the sector, and paving the way for it to flourish in the UK. We believe the more that regulators and governments can work with legitimate operators to develop an appropriate regulatory framework, the better,” he said.

Robo-regulation pilot schemes, designed to help firms comply with regulations automatically through technology, is another key item on Mr Hammond’s agenda. Digital wealth managers such as Nutmeg and Scalable Capital have seen marked growth over the past few years, with some landing significant endorsements from asset management giants such as BlackRock.

The government will also look to appoint three new Fintech Regional Envoys to promote fintech more evenly across the UK. It already has one envoy in the form of Eileen Burbidge, who will speak ahead of Mr Hammond this morning.

Other proposals in the fintech strategy plan include creating a set of industry standards for fintech firms wishing to partner with banks, helping small fintech firms to provide “complex financial services” through platforms shared between industry and government, and a Connect with Work programme developed by the government’s Fintech Delivery Panel to help firms take advantage of the UK’s diverse workforce.

Other items expected at today’s conference include an announcement from Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, that Tech City UK is building a Fintech Programme across the country to help new companies scale. Meanwhile, Mr Hammond and Scott Morrison, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia are expected to sign a new Fintech Bridge agreement.

Christian Faes, a London-based Australian who runs leading property lending fintech LendInvest, said that both ends of the bridge agreement have a lot to gain.

“By getting in early like this, Australians can learn a lot from London's approach to FinTech adoption. London is the global leader of FinTech for good reason: the government and regulator recognised the power of FinTech early and were quicker than most to support it,” he said.

“They’re getting something right down there and that's exciting. With the number of Australian FinTech startups doubling in the last two years, we should expect to see some great cross-border collaboration of all types happen in the months to come.”

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