Britain could introduce specific laws aimed at regulating the cryptocurrency industry in the next 12 months, a top lawmaker told CNBC.
The U.K. government laid out plans in February to regulate crypto assets and opened its suggestions up for consultation. The consultation period ends Apr. 30.
Andrew Griffith, economic secretary to the U.K. Treasury, said in an interview on Monday that specific crypto regulation could come into force within a year or so.
“We’ve got control back of our rulebook, not something the U.K. has had for decades,” Griffith told CNBC, referring to Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“So we’ve got the ability to move in an agile and proportionate way. And I’m definitely keen we make the most of that opportunity.”
Jurisdictions around the world from Dubai to Singapore have been trying to position themselves as crypto-friendly places to encourage firms to set up shop there.
The U.S., meanwhile, has taken a hard line on cryptocurrency firms with its regulators stepping up enforcement action against companies.
Britain, however, wants to position itself as a place for crypto firms to come. Last year, Rishi Sunak, then U.K. finance minister and now the prime minister, said his ambition was to make Britain a “global hub for cryptoasset technology.”
Crypto companies told CNBC they want clarity around rules and are pushing governments to come up with frameworks for them to operate. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission has used existing securities rules to target cryptocurrency firms.
Griffith said that the U.K.’s regulatory approach would mix both existing regulations and new ones.
“Wherever possible, we want to see the same asset, the same transaction regulated in the same way. But there are some additional opportunities in the crypto asset or distributed ledger space and we want to take advantage of that,” Griffith told CNBC.
The lawmaker pointed to the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, as an example of where upcoming legislation already includes some provisions on cryptocurrency. That specific law, which is not yet in force, aims to bring asset-backed stablecoins into the regulatory fold.
Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency designed to mirror real-world assets such as the U.S. dollar. They are often backed by real assets such as bonds or fiat currencies.
Distributed ledger technology, sometimes called blockchain, refers to multiple records of transactions that are not owned by a single entity. They may be shared and updated at the same time to ensure accuracy for all the parties involved in a transaction.