- Analysis of House of Commons records and social media suggests majority of British lawmakers are unaware of the pros and cons of blockchain technology
- Research findings comes at a vital time for the UK as it seeks to define its post-Brexit economy
- Cryptocurrency industry continues to grow in the UK with more than 2.3m users
Thursday 10 March 2022: UK MPs are “almost silent” on the growing cryptocurrency industry and its potential pros and cons for British consumers and the economy at-large, research of House of Commons and social media records has revealed.
The analysis from communications, advocacy and research agency SEC Newgate UK comes as blockchain companies and projects face increased scrutiny because of the sanctions levelled by Western economies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
SEC Newgate interrogated the official report of Parliamentary debates, Hansard, and MPs’ favourite social media platform, Twitter, covering the past year (from 1 March 2021 to 1 March 2022) for cryptocurrency-related terms, including ‘blockchain’, ‘Bitcoin’, ‘Ethereum’, ‘crypto’ and ‘cryptocurrency’, finding that just 7% of all MPs or 1-in-14 have mentioned the terms across social media and in the House of Commons.
The research found that the terms were only used 37 times on Twitter and 57 times in Parliament. The ruling Conservative Party was most prominent on the issue with 10 different MPs raising the issue on Twitter, with only three Labour MPs mentioning the industry. Likewise, according to Parliamentary records, the Tories led the way in the Commons with 35 of the crypto-related terms across 18 MPs, with Labour accounting for 14 mentions across nine MPs.
Some of the most vocal lawmakers on the subject have been Conservative MPs Philip Davies and Steve Baker, with former Health Secretary Matt Hancock declaring in January that the UK could can be the “home of new innovations [like] FinTech and Cryptocurrency” and “increase transparency and lead in new world-changing technology”.
Meanwhile, SNP MP Lisa Cameron is arguably one of the most influential lawmakers on the issue since she chairs the newly formed Crypto and Digital Assets All Party Parliamentary Group. Conservative MP and former minister Harriett Baldwin also sits on the group as a vice-chair as well as a member of the powerful cross-party Treasury Select Committee, membership of which allowed her to tell the chief executive of regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, Nikhil Rathi, that cryptocurrency companies should not be allowed to use words such as “invest” or “investment” since it legitimises them.
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has since unveiled Treasury proposals to bring the promotion of cryptoassets within the scope of financial promotions legislation, while the deputy governor of the Bank of England Sir Jon Cunliffe has called for “urgency” in developing regulatory frameworks for the cryptocurrency industry.
The Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also called for a “bespoke” regulatory regime. “The UK has the potential to be a leading global centre for the issuance, clearing, settlement, trading and exchange of crypto and digital assets,” the 2021 report stated.
The research comes as SEC Newgate plans to host a webinar entitled ‘How The UK Should Shape its Crypto Regulations’, featuring Shiv Malik, CEO of Pool Foundation, Ian Taylor, Executive Director of Crypto UK, George McDonaugh, Managing Director and co-founder of KR1 Plc and Tom Spiller OBE, Senior Associate at Rosenblatt.
Ian Silvera, a cryptocurrency and digital assets specialist at SEC Newgate UK, said: “It is worrying that UK MPs seem to be almost publicly silent on the cryptocurrency industry. London and Britain take great pride in being one of the world’s leading financial hubs and a champion of the fintech sector. However, rather than seeing blockchain technology as a post-Brexit dividend, the country could become a laggard and take its cues from other lawmakers if MPs, who sit at the heart of our democracy, aren’t further informed about the potential pros and cons of cryptocurrency.”
Ian Taylor, Executive Director of CryptoUK, added: “Education of policymakers remains a top priority for the crypto sector at this crucial time as global governments and regulators are looking at their own approaches to crypto.
“Crypto has the power to transform traditional financial services and it is important that we help policymakers develop their understanding of the sector as well as the potential benefits of a well-regulated crypto sector and the opportunities for the UK post-Brexit in terms of jobs, economy and innovation.
“The new Crypto and Digital Assets APPG will act as a forum for interested policymakers to discuss key issues in terms of future regulation of the crypto sector.”