Bitcoin latest: Government denies it is about to launch its own digital currency

The Treasury didn't deny such a plan could come in the future, or that it had been explored

Andrew Griffin
Friday 23 February 2018 12:32
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The UK Government has denied that it is planning to issue its own version of bitcoin.

But the plan hasn't been entirely ruled out, and the Bank of England is actively watching the potential impact of a government introducing its own digital currency.

The UK's central bank has long been rumoured to be exploring the possibilities opened up by digital currencies like bitcoin, which threaten traditional fiat currencies like the pound. Some of that work has even led to rumours that the UK could launch a digital currency all of its own, either in tandem with or instead of the pound.

But a senior government minister denied that the Bank of England was planning to introduce such a technology.

Barry Sheerman, a Labour MP, asked "whether the Government will introduce a fiat digital currency". The question was posed towards the beginning of February.

Now the government has confirmed that it won't launch such a currency, though suggested it had looked into it and didn't rule out the introduction of such technology in the future.

"The Bank of England does not currently plan to issue a central bank-issued digital currency," said John Glen, the City minister. "However, the Bank is undertaking research to better understand the implications of a central bank issuing a digital currency."

The Bank of England's digital currencies page makes clear that the bank is watching the development of digital currencies – but it doesn't see any immediate threat from them.

"We have assessed private digital currencies and concluded that while they are interesting, they do not currently pose a material risk to monetary or financial stability in the UK," it reads. "We continue to monitor developments in this area."

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