Britain could see crypto-specific regulation in the next 12 months

The U.K. government is planning to introduce specific laws aimed at regulating the cryptocurrency industry in the next 12 months, according to a top lawmaker.

Andrew Griffith, economic secretary to the U.K. Treasury, told CNBC on Monday that the government had laid out its plans to regulate crypto assets in February and opened its suggestions up for consultation. The consultation period ends on Apr. 30.

Griffith said that the U.K. wanted to position itself as a “global hub for cryptoasset technology” and that Brexit had given the country more control over its rule book.

“We’ve got control back of our rulebook, not something the U.K. has had for decades,” Griffith said. “So we’ve got the ability to move in an agile and proportionate way. And I’m definitely keen we make the most of that opportunity.”

The U.K.’s regulatory approach would mix both existing and new rules, Griffith said, adding that wherever possible, the same asset or transaction would be regulated in the same way as other financial services.

“But there are some additional opportunities in the crypto asset or distributed ledger space and we want to take advantage of that,” he said.

The U.K.’s move comes amid growing interest and adoption of cryptocurrencies around the world, as well as increasing scrutiny and enforcement actions from regulators in other jurisdictions, such as the U.S.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been cracking down on several crypto firms and products, including Coinbase’s proposed lending service and Ripple’s XRP token.

Griffith said that he had met with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong on Tuesday, who had expressed his frustration with the lack of regulatory clarity in the U.S. and hinted that he might consider moving his headquarters to London.

“The UK is moving fast on sensible crypto regulation to both drive economic growth and consumer protection. Excited to keep investing in the UK,” Armstrong tweeted after the meeting.

Coinbase is currently listed on the Nasdaq in New York and has a market capitalization of over $60 billion. It is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms, with over 68 million verified users and more than 100 supported cryptocurrencies.

Griffith said that he would welcome Coinbase and other crypto firms to set up shop in the U.K., as long as they complied with the rules and regulations.

“We want to be part of the solution here. We want to work with regulators. We want to help create sensible regulation for this industry,” Armstrong said

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