The UK Treasury Minister has commissioned the Royal Mint to create an NFT as “an emblem of the forward-looking approach”. The project was announced in a speech by John Glen, the Treasury’s economic secretary, who told a summit that more details on the Mint’s currency would be coming “very soon”.
While countries like Ukraine have issued NFTs before, this particular announcement looks a bit different – for one thing, it comes from one of the highest levels of the UK government. It is also supposed to be done by the entity in charge of printing the country’s currency.
That’s not to say that UK citizens should expect the government to replace the pound with HerMajesty’sCoin anytime soon. The announcement’s complete lack of detail makes it easy to see it as just a public relations exercise – a way for the Treasury to show it is serious about making the UK a hotbed of financial innovation and going “downstairs” with crypto (announcing, you know, an NFT more than a year after Taco Bell came out with its own crypto token).
To be fair, it looks like the UK government is taking crypto seriously. Glen announced that the Treasury was asking a legal task force to review the “legal status of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations” (or DAOs). It also summarizes much of what the government is currently working on regarding crypto – the speech runs for 21 minutes (though there’s a fair amount of fluff), and you can watch it in full below.
Reuters does a good job of breaking down the major components, but as a TL; DR: The UK Treasury is working on the regulation of certain stablecoins (cryptocurrencies whose value is, in theory, largely tied to the price of fiat currencies), will have a number of meetings around crypto regulation and are still working on its “regulatory sandbox” to allow crypto firms to “test products and services in a controlled environment.”
As for the Treasury’s crypto project, it’s hard to know what to expect. Will it be a collector’s item that crypto enthusiasts across the UK will want to have in their wallet? Or will it just be a single NFT (the announcement tweet somewhat implies there will only be one) stored on a locked hardware wallet at Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London ?
Honestly, that’s probably not the important part. While NFTs are all the rage (or at least were at one point), the future of crypto is likely to be shaped more by how countries with a big stake in global finance choose to regulate them rather than by a particular project – even if that project is from the Royal Mint.