In many countries, when it comes to regulating bitcoin companies, it’s still mostly a work in progress. Some governments want to restrict bitcoin quite a lot, while others are adopting a more favorable stance. The U.K. has been the financial hub of Europe for decades now, and it looks like it plans to do the same thing with bitcoin. British Prime Minister David Cameron is currently wrapping up his first trade mission since re-election in South East Asia, and he brought the usual suspects (Lloyd’s of London, Rolls-Royce…) as well as a bitcoin company, Blockchain.
This is a good signal for the bitcoin industry in the U.K. as the British Government has yet to adopt a strong stance on the subject. On the one hand, bitcoin companies should expect anti-money laundering regulation, on the other hand, the Bank of England has issued multiple favorable statements toward the cryptocurrency as Coindesk noticed.
“While existing private digital currencies have economic flaws which make them volatile, the distributed ledger technology that their payment systems rely on may have considerable promise,” the Bank of England wrote in February.
And bringing a bitcoin company to a trade mission is yet another sign that the U.K. wants to play an important role when it comes to welcoming bitcoin startups and becoming a bitcoin hub. This is not the kind of company that you would expect on an official trip to Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
“There are a couple of peer-to-peer loan companies and then there’s an e-commerce company and a bank software-as-a-service provider,” Blockchain co-founder Peter Smith told me. “Other big companies on the delegation are massive infrastructure companies.”
London-based startup Blockchain has been growing quite a lot lately. The number of transactions using Blockchain’s wallets and API has doubled over the past six months, and the company now has 4 million users. The team also raised $30 million in October 2014.
When asked about bitcoin regulation in the U.K., Smith was optimistic. “We’ve been working pretty closely with Number 10 and the policy makers in the U.K. generally. I think the invitation is a reflection of the positive relationship and the Prime Minister’s dedication to fintech, and especially fintech 2.0,” he said. “Recently they committed £10 million in budget to study this stuff. [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Osborne has made a lot of public comments supporting bitcoin publicly — we expect a regulatory framework soon.” Let’s just hope it is more permissive than the New York Department of Financial Services’ BitLicense.