Treasury wants to show Britain is at cutting edge for new technologies with cryptoasset launch by summer
The Treasury has asked the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token, or NFT, as it attempts to show Britain is at the cutting edge for new technologies by launching its own cryptoasset. It said the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, had asked the 1,136-year-old institution to create the NFT – a type of unique digital asset stored on a blockchain, the same decentralised ledger of transactions used to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin – so it could be issued by the summer.
“This decision shows the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK,” the Treasury said on Twitter, posting a picture of the royal coat of arms on a blue background. NFTs use the unique blockchain value to confer ownership of something – whether tangible or virtual – with pieces of digital art, photographs or music increasingly popular. Typically bought and sold by collectors, some NFTs have soared in value and are worth millions of pounds, as buyers use them to flaunt their taste or wealth, or speculate on the price gyrations to make money.
The Treasury’s announcement did not specify what image or object the Royal Mint’s NFT would confer ownership of, whether more would be created, nor whether NFTs would be used to generate funds for the exchequer. However, the decision to launch an NFT is likely to raise eyebrows at a time when more than a million people in Britain are expected to fall into poverty this year after Sunak did not do more in his spring statement to cushion the poorest in society from soaring living costs as inflation hits the highest level in three decades.