Speakers and attendees at major new annual conference show UK’s way out of bitcoin limbo.
This is a writer and review editor for British Bitcoiner Bitcoms.
“I joked on stage that when it comes to bitcoins, I don’t consider myself from Edinburgh – I consider myself from Twitter,” the writer said. Allen Farrington. “I was worried that England might be one of the last places to really take it seriously.”
But sitting with me between sessions at the first Bitcoin Collective conference in his hometown, Farrington feels more positive. “I think this case is really impressive,” he said. “It’s really encouraging to see all the effort that’s gone into this, and to see all the British Bitcoiners coming and being equally excited about it.”
He has a point: with dozens of top international speakers, an impressive range of local exhibitors and a real buzz generated by hundreds of attendees, it’s hard not to be energized by this new but already assured UK conference.
Britain is the Land of the Bitcoin People
But Farrington is not too discouraged. “From a regulatory perspective, it’s pretty pathetic,” he says. “I know quite a few people here who choose not to start Bitcoin companies. It’s not even that the rules are bad. The problem in England is more uncertainty. Nobody seems to know what you are allowed to do here and how it relates to the current financial regulation.”
These statements are then played on stage Alan Higgins, Chief Investment Officer at Coutts & Co., UK, one of the world’s oldest banks managing the wealth of high net worth investors. “It’s not clear what we can and can’t do … it’s not clear about the regulation,” he explains. “And if we get it wrong: big fines,” he adds, succinctly explaining why even the UK’s more adventurous financial institutions still shy away from dealing with Bitcoin.
Btrust board member and Fed CEO Obi Nwosu It gives me some insight into why the pace of UK regulation is so glacial and the environment so unfriendly. From 2013 to 2021, when he ran Britain-only bitcoin exchange Coinfloor, Nwosu saw “more and more sentiment music coming around around appropriate and sensible regulation. However, people have pushed for it – I would call them Bitcoin progressives from the regulatory world. and the political sphere—as a result, they tended to see it as so powerful that they needed to be a part of it. So they would leave and join Bitcoin companies or crypto companies one by one. The result is that you’re left with people who either don’t get it or don’t get it, but conclude it’s a net negative. This leads to a more hostile regulatory environment.”
Another problem is that the little relevant regulation that already exists in the UK does not address the most important issues. “My biggest gripe with regulation is that it’s generally anti-money laundering, but it doesn’t really protect the consumer,” he explains. Danny Scott, CEO of British exchange Coincorner, pointed out that big exchanges are allowed to “add every cryptocurrency and token you can think of and list them all – it’s a casino.” Scott tells me he wants to see “regulation that protects consumers from ‘pump and dump,’ LUNAs or legitimate companies. You need protection from them, not from the Bitcoin trading company.”
So what is the likely direction of regulatory travel? Dr. Lisa CameronAttending both days of the conference, the UK Member of Parliament chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Digital Assets and Cryptocurrency. “We’ve already accepted written submissions to the group and we’ll be holding a series of oral evidence sessions over the next two months,” he tells me. “Then we’ll put it together for some initial recommendations to the government in January and we want to publish in the new year.”
“It’s not Bitcoin specific,” he explains, but “a study of the UK government’s aim to make Britain a hub for cryptocurrency… We’ll be looking at CBDCs, stablecoins and also international best practices because… post-Brexit, the UK will can create a regulatory base and develop its own niche.
Although the scope of the APPG may sound overly broad and somewhat primitive, at least the Edinburgh conference Dr. It gave Cameron the opportunity to discuss issues on and off stage with Bitcoin veterans. Samson Mow, his new January 3 initiative aims to educate politicians and administrators. He draws the same kind of distinctions that Danny Scott would like to see the authorities assess. “I don’t believe Bitcoin needs any regulation. It’s just money,” Mow tells me. “I think it’s going to be a trend where Bitcoin is recognized as money, it’s not regulated, but all cryptocurrencies will be. You can add another layer of regulation for stablecoins. So I think this distinction between these three groups of things is critical for any regulator trying to create any regulation that makes sense.
It remains to be seen whether the UK’s APPG will reflect the constructive efforts of some US politicians, follow the EU’s overtly adversarial approach, or take a completely different path. But what seems clear is that – at least for now – Britain is Bitcoin’s no-man’s land, not only in terms of regulation, but politically and even culturally.
“I see the UK stuck between the US and Europe. I think the European Union will move down the CBDC route, and America will just move towards Bitcoin,” Jan3’s Doogie Ewing tells me. “In the UK we are right and I think we can go either way.”
Allen Farrington has long taken a similar view of the UK: neither leaning nor away from Bitcoin. “I guess it could be worse, right? It could be the EU,” he says, referring to the bloc’s apparent Bitcoin stance. “It’s taken very seriously in the US, I think, in part because it’s a natural extension of Silicon Valley and probably nowhere else in the world is freedom more culturally ingrained… it’s a natural way to find Bitcoin,” he said. . . “At the very other end of the spectrum is Central America, West Africa, Southeast Asia, where it’s actually financial situations that drive people to Bitcoin. I was worried for a while that the UK didn’t have any of these. There are none of these reasons for it to take off.”
British Bitcoiners Are a Dawn of Hope
But Farrington is beginning to see the outlook for the UK more positive. “It’s exactly that kind of grassroots effort,” he says, pointing to the conference. “That’s why I was so disappointed a year ago, but now I’m so encouraged.”
Danny Scott is equally enthused by what he has seen on the ground in England over the past six months. “We’ve seen quite a rise in small communities,” he says, pointing to “about 30 UK meetups that are starting to form now … they’re talking about Bitcoin and trying to help grow Bitcoin adoption in their area. Bitcoin is a community project and a community effort, so so it’s great that we’re now starting to see that in the UK.”
Obi Nwosu also noted similar positive trends. “We’ve seen this organic growth that started in 2017/2018 continue to grow and the grassroots support for Bitcoin among the UK Bitcoin community is getting stronger and stronger,” he said. “And it’s really interesting because any change that happens like that is very hard, very strong and very hard to break. So I think the way to Bitcoin’s success is to continue to double that. Talk to regulators, try to explain, try to support their decision-making process, but don’t build a strategy that relies on them.”
Doogie Ewing is also instrumental in helping the UK Bitcoin community move the country in the right direction. “I think it’s our duty as Bitcoiners to help raise awareness of how the use of Bitcoin helps strengthen individual sovereignty,” he said. “Once we can educate people, I think the weight will come from people to push the Bitcoin standard in the UK and to be more in line with America and maybe move away from CBDC, which I think is coming for Europe.”
Bitcoin Collective CEO Jordan Walker echoes similar sentiments. “The conference was a huge success, but like Bitcoin, it’s about a decentralized but collective effort of everyone around the country doing their part to educate, inform and inspire others about Bitcoin. This gives people hope in times of financial desperation.”
The consensus is clear: if the hope of a Bitcoin-friendly Britain is to be realized, a concerted effort by the country’s bitcoiners will be essential.
The first Bitcoin Collective conference was held in Edinburgh on 21-22 October 2022. All sessions can be watched online. In 2023, the conference will be held in London.
This is a guest post by Bitcoms. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nasdaq, Inc.