Lord Lamont urges Sunak to ‘seize’ Britcoin bounty or face being ‘modern King Canute’
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And he warned the current occupant of Number 11 Downing Street any reluctance to embrace the concept of digital cash would be comparable to King Canute refusing to accept the inevitability of the tide coming in. The Tory peer was speaking after Mr Sunak confirmed the Treasury and the Bank of England were joining forces to launch a task force to consider the feasibility of the idea.
We would not want to be modern King Canute
He told Express.co.uk: “Digital currencies are rapidly attracting increasing global attention and activity.
“It is important that, where appropriate, Britain seizes the opportunity to keep up with the global pace of change; there may be massive potential economic, regulatory and security benefits for our country.
“The cost of payment and settlement is a measurable part of our GDP and may be significantly reduced.
“We would not want to be modern King Canute.”
Lord Lamont sits on the advisory board of the CityUnited Project, which has been lobbying hard for the Government to take a proactive approach.
The CityUnited Project’s Vice Chairman, Leigh Evans, said: “As the fifth-largest economy in the world and with a globally-leading financial sector, the UK has an opportunity to establish the ‘gold standard’ for such a currency.
“The CityUnited Project is pleased to have been at the vanguard of this initiative, which has been well-received by stakeholders.
”As the Bank of England and HM Treasury says, this does not replace cash in your pocket, but it will deliver benefits in many ways, reducing transaction costs and making the UK an even more efficient place to do business.
“Last week we published our ‘Bluffer’s Guide to a Digital Currency’ and we are now working on detailed proposals with financial sector specialists.
”We’re looking forward to contributing to the thinking of the Government’s new Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce in the coming weeks.”
Speaking on Monday, Mr Sunak said: “Our vision is for a more open, greener, and more technologically advanced financial services sector.
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“The UK is already known for being at the forefront of innovation, but we need to go further.
”The steps I’ve outlined today, to boost growing fintechs, push the boundaries of digital finance and make our financial markets more efficient, will propel us forward.
“And if we can capture the extraordinary potential of technology, we’ll cement the UK’s position as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre.”
Digital currencies are already being explored and even implemented in several other countries.
They can bring benefits in the way cross-border payments are made, as well as take advantage of a general decline in cash payments.
At the moment, the Bahamas is, the only country to have a fully functioning digital currency is the Bahamas, although China is trialling it in several cities.
Earlier this week, Stefan Nils Magnus Ingves, the CEO of Sweden’s central bank, said the country could have such a digital version of its currency up and running in 2026, while Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) has indicated an electronic euro might be created within four years.
The idea draws inspiration from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, without itself being a cryptocurrency.
One of the benefits of an e-pound would be as a backup to card payments.
At present, customers can turn to cash as an alternative if they are in a shop where the card machines have stopped working.
However, as cash use is becoming increasingly uncommon, with fewer than one in 10 payments in the UK are expected to be made with paper money by 2028, its place as a contingency to electronic payment systems will decline.
A digital currency could be another contingency system, according to a Bank of England report from last year.
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