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UK’s Royal Mint drops NFT plans

by on28 March 2023

The economy is in enough of a mess

UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak’s attempt to sign the country up to an NFT financial system has been mercifully dropped.

When he was chancellor in April 2022 Rishi Sunak ordered the creation of an "NFT for Britain" that could be traded online,

NFTs are digital assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold but have no physical form and a faith-based value.

The Treasury announced it was "not proceeding with the launch" following a consultation with the Royal Mint.

Economic secretary Andrew Griffiths said the department would keep the proposal "under review" which is UK political speak for “let us never speak of it again.”

NFTs have been touted as the digital answer to collectables, but they are a bubble waiting to burst. They have been used as speculative assets, and some have sold for millions of dollars.

Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Harriet Baldwin said: "We have not yet seen much evidence that our constituents should be putting their money in these speculative tokens unless they are prepared to lose all their money.

NFTs are unique units of digital data that use the same "blockchain" technology behind cryptocurrencies - such as Bitcoin. The records cannot be forged because thousands of computers worldwide maintain the blockchain ledger.

The Treasury is working to regulate some cryptocurrencies and had planned to enter the NFT market as part of a wider bid to make the UK a hub for digital payment companies.

It is not clear why Sunak thought that NFTs were god’s gift to the economy. When he thought they were a good idea he said: "We want to see the [cryptocurrency] businesses of tomorrow - and the jobs they create - here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term."

The fact that prices of the NFTs plummeted last year after crypto exchange FTX went bankrupt might have something to do with it.

Last modified on 28 March 2023
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