Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attends a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London, Britain March 3, 2021.

POOL/AFP/Getty Images

British finance minister Rishi Sunak told the Bank of England on Monday to look at the case for a new “Britcoin,” or central bank-backed digital currency, aimed at tackling some of the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

A BoE-backed digital version of sterling would potentially allow businesses and consumers to hold accounts directly with the bank and to sidestep others when making payments, upending the lenders’ role in the financial system.

“We’re launching a new task force between the Treasury and the Bank of England to coordinate exploratory work on a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC),” Sunak told a financial industry conference.

Story continues below advertisement

Soon after, Sunak tweeted the single word “Britcoin” in reply to the finance ministry’s announcement of the task force.

Other central banks are also looking at whether to set up digital versions of their own currencies, essentially widening access to central bank funds which only commercial banks can use at present. This could speed up domestic and foreign payments and reduce financial stability risks.

China is a front-runner to launch a CBDC. Last week the European Central Bank said it was studying an electronic form of cash to complement banknotes and coins but any launch was still several years away.

The BoE said a digital version of sterling would not replace either physical cash or existing bank accounts.

“The Government and the Bank of England have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the U.K., and will engage widely with stakeholders on the benefits, risks and practicalities of doing so,” the BoE said.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey has previously said bitcoin, the best known cryptocurrency, fails to act as a stable store of value or an efficient way to make transactions, making it ill-suited to serve as a currency and a risky bet for investors.

Central banks also took a dim view of efforts by Facebook to set up its own digital currency.

Story continues below advertisement

Even so, cryptocurrencies have received growing interest from mainstream financial institutions, and bitcoin hit a record high of nearly $65,000 on April 14, up tenfold in the space of a year.

DARK TRADING

Sunak, launching the U.K. FinTech Week conference, also announced other measures aimed at maintaining the post-Brexit competitiveness of London, which vies with New York to be the world’s largest financial centre.

Since Britain’s departure from the European Union’s orbit on Dec. 31, the financial sector has faced restrictions on serving EU customers.

Sunak proposed removing restrictions inherited from the EU, including on who can trade shares in London and the double volume cap.

This would help Britain attract more “dark” or anonymous trading by big investors after Amsterdam toppled London as Europe’s top share trading centre in January.

“The consultation process aims to deliver a rulebook that is fair, outcomes-based and supports competitiveness, whilst ensuring the U.K. maintains the highest regulatory standards,” Sunak said.

Story continues below advertisement

Britain would also propose changes to companies’ share prospectuses to ensure the rules are “not overly burdensome,” Sunak said.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies