Rishi Sunak is the United Kingdom's new Prime Minister. His appointment comes at a time of financial crisis and instability, but there’s one thing that sets him apart from most other world leaders: his fondness for NFTs and crypto.
NFTs for Britain
Sunak shot to fame across the DeFi world when he ordered the Royal Mint to develop a government-backed NFT project showcasing the UK’s “forward-looking approach” to finance. This project will still go ahead despite the market downturn occurring since its announcement. Sunak is clearly bullish about the future of NFTs and is looking beyond short-term economic prospects.
He’s also waxed lyrical about how the UK should “innovate” around blockchain technology and encourage firms to invest. His time as chancellor saw multiple crypto bills pushed through parliament as well as a renewed focus on stablecoins (which he plans to implement as valid forms of payment).
Could the UK lead the crypto world?
In Sunak's own words, the aim is to transform the UK into a "global hub" for crypto, encouraging investment and widespread adoption across the business sector. Measures include a “sandbox” for businesses to experiment with, a new Cryptoasset Engagement Group and potential changes to the taxation system. The aim is to encourage the businesses of the future to invest in the UK, creating jobs.
His work on the Financial Services and Market Bill includes a section about bringing greater clarity to blockchain technology. Although not as extreme as SEC interventions, Sunak routinely speaks about ensuring safe adoption. Under his tenure, we can expect to see increased adoption running parallel with increased regulation. Whether he’ll be able to strike the right balance for crypto firms and individual investors (who normally balk at the idea of any kind of regulation) remains to be seen.
There could yet be another twist in the tale, though. Sunak's government inherits a wave of unpopularity and trails the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls. Labour has a long history of anti-crypto sentiment. Shadow Chancellor Racheal Reeves dismissed Sunak’s NFT plans as a “vanity project.” The previous Shadow Home Secretary, Dianne Abbott, suggested that the party would crack down hard on Bitcoin, which she described as a "Ponzi Scheme." The next general election may well be a reckoning for crypto in the UK.