Crypto-hub Britain: what the experts think 

Problem habit, crypto conversion and rule Bit-tannia!

Crypto-hub Britain
(Image credit: Ink Drop/Alamy Stock Photo)

Problem habit?

Addiction experts report that “young men trading cryptocurrency have begun to seek help for symptoms associated with problem gambling,” said Patrick O’Donoghue in The Sunday Times (Ireland). Barry Grant of Extern Problem Gambling warns of a “classic” progression. “You dabble with it. You do something small, you’re having a bit of fun. Maybe you’re doing a bit of research about it. Then you have a big win.” Once hooked, the lack of safeguards means it may well be more difficult “to quit crypto than it is to kick a problem gambling habit”.

Crypto conversion

The findings aren’t great news for the Treasury, which has just laid out plans to make the UK “a global hub” for the crypto industry, following criticism that its “stringent approach was throttling innovation”, said the FT. The shift in tone is welcome, but care clearly needs to be taken. The new initiative coincided with a warning from BoE governor Andrew Bailey that crypto­currencies were the new “frontline” in criminal scams. Much of what the Treasury is proposing is uncontroversial, said Charles Walmsley on Citywire. Plans include advancing the use of “stablecoins” (online currencies pegged to the traditional, fiat sort) in payments, and creating a regulatory “sandbox” to allow businesses “to experiment with cryptocurrency models”. But the most eye-catching plan – to create an NFT (non-fungible token) via The Royal Mint – was also the most controversial. While some compare these digital assets to works of art, others argue “they are very risky investments” with no “inherent value”.

Rule Bit-tannia!

“There’s nothing wrong with the Treasury taking an exploratory walk round the crypto block,” said Nils Pratley in The Guardian. Yet the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has “rather undermined” the seriousness of the project by dabbling in “faddish stunts” like NFTs. Better to “stick to boring technical assessments of payment systems”. It feels as though the Treasury is ignoring all that dull stuff about “illicit activity and carbon emissions” to embrace crypto as “the best thing ever”, agreed Jemima Kelly on FT Alphaville. “Rule Bit-tannia!” and all that. Or as the crypto bros like to say “WAGMI” – “we are all gonna make it”. What could possibly go wrong?

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us