Philip Hammond, the former UK finance minister and now, as Lord Hammond, a senior adviser to Copper, the
London-based crypto custodian and trading services provider, has said that Britain is losing out to other jurisdictions.

In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that it’s “quite shocking” that the UK has fallen behind the EU in formulating regulations for the crypto sector. “This is not the natural order of things,” he said, alluding to London’s place in the world as a global clearing hub.
He said that if the regulators fault to catch up in 2022, digital-asset businesses will consider moving their headquarters to jurisdictions which are further ahead with regulation, such as Switzerland, Monaco and Germany.

The UK needs to regulate if it stands a chance of establishing what will become the core plumbing for many forms of trading, he told Bloomberg. “That’s the big prize,” he said. “It’s not about cryptoassets. It’s about establishing the U.K. as a major base for digital trading infrastructure.” He said the situation has become “existential for the U.K. financial-services market,” which generated 8.6 percent of the nation’s total economic output in 2020.

The former minister, who is well-regarded in financial circles, was quite specific with his criticism of the slowness of the UK’s handling of crypto.

He referred to a statement by the Treasury on January 18 in which the department said it would introduce secondary legislation to bring cryptoassets under financial promotions rules “when parliamentary time allows.”

“‘When parliamentary time allows’, I’m afraid, is a time-honoured expression in government, which means ‘kick into the long grass’ That isn’t going to do.”

In reference to Singapore, Hammond said: “I know these guys very well. They are absolutely not, sort of, gambling money-type people… they understand very well that establishing your financial services centre as a hub for digital asset trading will place you at the forefront of the tokenisation and digitisation of traditional financial services trading in due course, and that’s going to be a huge, huge prize.”

FILE PHOTO: Lord Hammond Reuters