London, the world’s capital for trade in traditional currency, intends to become a center of bitcoin trading.
The authorities in the UK are actively supporting the digital currency with an aim of facilitating financial innovation. Meantime, they recognize the need for developing regulations in order to stop the use of bitcoin for illegal activities.
The capital of the UK is also headquarters for the globe’s largest bitcoin networking group, called CoinScrum. The organization includes over 2,200 members, primarily young bitcoin enthusiasts who came to London to begin their cryptocurrency businesses. CoinScrum was launched in 2012 to help people start their own companies and bring their ideas to life.
In March, the UK government unveiled its plans to regulate bitcoin exchanges in order to prevent their use in criminal activities, such as money laundering or drug sales. The initiative was praised by bitcoin proponents who acknowledge the necessity of legislation to regulate the digital currency that won’t stop innovation.
Nicolas Cary, Blockchain co-founder, told Reuters: “London has been the home of financial innovation for hundreds of years. It would be a historical mistake not to make this the home of digital currencies. There’s an incredible amount of talent and experience here.”
If compared to New York, the world center for traditional finance, London looks more attractive for bitcoin businesses, taking into account the state’s BitLicense proposal.
Some experts today are worried that bitcoin can have a negative influence on the financial industry
Last month, the British Bankers’ Association has published a report, stating that growing popularity of cryptocurrencies will jeopardize “revenue streams of the traditional banking system.”
While the opponents of bitcoin consider the digital currency facilitates illegal trading, its advocates claim that the use of cash to make anonymous purchases is much easier.
According to Accenture consulting company, the investment in fintech firms in the UK and Ireland in 2014 totaled $623 million, accounting for 42% of overall investment in Europe.
Additionally, the UK government promised $15 million for a research initiative on digital currency and the blockchain technology.
The Bank of England has also admitted that the blockchain could revolutionize the financial industry, adding that central banks could issue their own virtual currencies. Although there are still no such cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, a lot of companies have used the blockchain to create their own digital currencies.
Swiss banking company UBS has recently announced that is going to open a technology lab in London to investigate the technology behind bitcoin and explore the potential impact of the blockchain for the industry.
Nowadays, the citizens of London can use bitcoin to buy anything, from designer clothes to a pint of beer. There are currently seven ATMs in the city that enable Londoners to change fiat currency for bitcoin.
In general, there is quite a large number of bitcoin users in the UK’s capital, who are involved in the industry and regularly attend bitcoin meetings to discuss the future of cryptocurrency.
One of such bitcoin enthusiasts, Abigail Scarlett, a freelance photographer, has become the first bitcoin-paid photographer in London. Under the project, Scarlett will work only for bitcoin during the next half year. In the near future, she plans to open Scarlett Abby Bitcoin photo studio and a coffee shop, where she’ll make photos, sell coffee, organize bitcoin meetings and offer a bitcoin ATM.