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UK’s Royal Mint drops Sunak’s NFT program

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Great Reset-style plans to introduce a government-backed NFT have been scrapped, the Royal Mint reported this week.

Last April, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the historic name of Britain’s finance minister, Rishi Sunak outlined plans for the introduction of an ‘NFT for Britain’ to be produced by the Royal Mint and which could be bought and sold. on line.

Yet this week the Mint said it would “not go ahead with the launch” after consultation with the Treasury, however, the government’s economics secretary, Andrew Griffiths, said the department would keep the idea ” under investigation,” the BBC reported.

NFTs or non-fungible tokens are separate, non-interchangeable units of data that are stored on the blockchain ledger by computers around the world in the same way as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The technology, which was created in 2014, has grown in popularity in recent years being used as proof of digital or physical assets like a certificate of authenticity.

However, some fear that the technology represents a bubble, with some NFTs soaring and rapidly losing value. Security concerns have also been raised, as they are prone to theft if not stored properly.

Commenting on the decision to scrap the Royal Mint scheme, Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, Harriet Baldwin, said: ‘We have yet to see much evidence that our constituents should be putting their money in these speculative tokens. unless they are ready to lose all their money.

“So maybe that’s why the Royal Mint made this decision in conjunction with the Treasury,” added the Tory MP.

The UK government is reportedly still set to introduce a so-called “digital pound” or “Britcoin” in the form of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), a project backed by the World Economic Forum to ensure that Governments around the world are moving away from hard currency to a cashless society. Unlike decentralized assets such as Bitcoin, a CBDC, as the name suggests, would be fully controlled by the government, meaning the state would be able to track every transaction made by citizens.

According to professional services consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), around 80% of central banks around the world are actively considering introducing a CBDC, with countries like communist China already introducing a “digital yuan”.

UK Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt said in a statement in February: “While cash is here to stay, a digital pound issued and backed by the Bank of England could be a new, trusted means of payment. accessible and easy to use, which is why we want to first explore what is possible, while always ensuring that financial stability is protected.

Yet some, like Bank of England fintech director Tom Mutton, said in 2021 that a CBDC would allow government officials to program into its code the ability to decide what citizens can or cannot do. spend their digital books.

“You could introduce programmability – what happens if one of the participants in a transaction puts a restriction on [future use of the money]Mutton said, adding, “There could be socially beneficial outcomes, preventing an activity considered socially harmful in one way or another. But at the same time, it could be a restriction of people’s freedoms.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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