Britain to 'further explore' potential of digital currencies like Bitcoin

Wednesday 06 August 2014 18.14
Britain hopes to become a global centre of financial innovation - which could include the development of digital currencies
Britain hopes to become a global centre of financial innovation - which could include the development of digital currencies

British finance minister George Osborne has said the government would further explore the potential of digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

The regulation of virtual and digital currencies, and the risks associated with them, will be examined in a bid to boost Britain's Financial Technology sector, Mr Osborne said.

The government is set to publish a strategy document later this year setting out how Britain can become the "global centre of financial innovation," the British Treasury said.

Bitcoin - a virtual currency that can be used to pay for goods from a computer or mobile device - is not currently subject to legislation.

Several countries have warned users of the risks associated with Bitcoin, such as their susceptibility to fraud because of the difficulty of tracing transactions.

Mr Osborne said cementing Britain's position as "the centre of global finance" was key to the government's long-term economic strategy.

"That's why I'm delighted to announce a series of major steps today to help our FinTech firms continue to grow and succeed," he said.

The Treasury predicts Britain's alternative finance market will be worth £1.6bn (€2bn) this year.

Other measures announced included a £100m extension to investment for smaller businesses and awards for those who come up with solutions to help small businesses access finance.