UK Treasury: Not the Right Time To Launch Official NFT

The UK Treasury Select Committee’s chair said there hasn’t been enough evidence that people should put their money into “speculative tokens.”

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Shag 7799/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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The UK appears to have scrapped plans to launch an NFT, a move earlier championed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Economic Secretary Andrew Griffith said Monday that the Royal Mint’s decision to back away from NFTs was made in consultation with the UK Treasury. The proposal will go under review, he added. 

He was responding to a written question from conservative politician Harriett Baldwin, who enquired about whether the NFT is still under consideration by the UK’s chief finance minister.

Baldwin, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, guessed that the Treasury’s decision was motivated by insufficient evidence showing the value of NFTs, the BBC reported.

“We have not yet seen a lot of evidence that our constituents should be putting their money in these speculative tokens unless they are prepared to lose all their money,” she said. “So perhaps that is why the Royal Mint has made this decision in conjunction with the Treasury.”

The UK’s plans for an NFT first came up when Sunak served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In April last year, the UK Treasury said Sunak asked the institution to create an NFT by the summer. “This decision shows the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK,” the Treasury said in a tweet.

The institution did not lay out what the NFT would consist of — an image, video or an object — nor whether it would be utilized for profit by the state. It also wasn’t known whether the Treasury would’ve accepted cryptocurrency for the tokens.

A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that the plans are abandoned for now. “The Royal Mint operates as a commercial business and has confirmed now is not the right time to launch an NFT,” they told Blockworks via email.

“In light of recent developments in the wider crypto market and the Royal Mint’s current capacity for delivery, the Treasury agreed the NFT should not be pursued at this time. However, the Royal Mint will keep this under review.”

UK PM has been pro-crypto

Sunak himself has been a vocal crypto enthusiast and has often declared his interest in blockchain.

“It’s my ambition to make the UK a global hub for cryptoasset technology,” he has said. But the crypto ecosystem has faced a slew of critical incidents since, including crashing prices and a string of critical bankruptcies.

London itself has seen more than 600 people in the crypto sector losing their jobs in the last year, according to a recent study. The report predicts that the number of layoffs in 2023 is set to outpace those in 2022.

The UK can still achieve its ambitions by creating a supportive regulatory framework and developing crypto-friendly infrastructure, according to Alexandr Onufriychuk, head of growth at Corite, a firm that creates NFT collections and works with artists in the UK. 

Other steps could include encouraging investment in the crypto space, he said, or collaborating with the private sector to develop blockchain-based solutions for supply chain management or digital identity verification.


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