The United Kingdom’s Treasury Select Committee, a group of cross-party MPs, is launching an inquiry into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and blockchain technology in an effort to understand them.
The UK Treasury Committee is today opening a new inquiry into cryptocurrencies to focus on both opportunities and risks posed to consumers, businesses and the government. The collective of lawmakers, described by The Guardian as ‘a powerful committee of MPs’, will also study the disruptive potential of blockchain technology on the financial industry, including banks and the central bank.
Treasury committee chair Nicky Morgan said the inquiry was needed at a time when everyday investors and citizens are increasingly becoming aware of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Individual investors aren’t afforded any consumer protection with crypto-related investments, she said, pointing to a lack of regulation in the space.
“The Treasury Committee will look at the potential risks that digital currencies could generate for consumers, businesses, and Governments, including those relating to volatility, money laundering and cyber-crime,” she stated.
Notably, she added:
“We will also examine the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies and the technology underpinning them, how they can create innovative opportunities, and to what extent they could disrupt the economy and replace traditional means of payment.”
The committee chair said it is “crucial” to strike the right balance between regulation focused on protecting consumers and businesses “whilst not stifling innovation”. The new inquiry, she added, will explore how this balance would be achieved.
The committee will open itself to verbal and written advice and suggestions from experts on cryptocurrencies before submitting a report of its own to the government with its recommended path to ‘striking the right balance.’
The inquiry comes within months of the UK Treasury weighing up wider regulation and taxation policies for cryptocurrency exchanges and users respectively.
According to committee member Alison McGovern, today’s inquiry will help stir UK lawmakers and politicians to educate themselves on cryptocurrencies before enforcing any policies.
“It is time that Whitehall and Westminster understood cryptocurrency better, and thought more clearly about the policy environment for blockchain technology.”