Britcoin vs Scotcoin: The UK cryptocurrency battle

Guy Bentley
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Scotcoin or Britcoin? (Source: Filckr)

In the aftermath of George Osborne's announcement that the Treasury will investigate what role digital currencies can play in the UK financial system and the heated debate between Alex Salmond and Allister Darling on Scottish independence, could there be a better time to examine the fortunes of two competing UK cryptocurrencies?

In the red corner, stands Britcoin, its symbol emblazoned with the Union Jack and the crown of the monarch. In the blue corner, Scotcoin proudly displays Saint Andrew's Cross and a thistle.

Brtitcoin is the younger of the two. Launched a month ago, its creator William Thomas told IBTimes that the coin "upholds British morals," although what these morals were was not specified.

Thomas says that Britcoin is "completely in the hands of the users, the British public." However, this is not strictly true. If it is indeed the users who control Britcoin and anyone from anywhere in the world can purchase the decentralised cryptocurrency, this is perhaps not the nationalistic icon Thomas says it is.

Britcoin has enjoyed a steady rise up the cryptocurrency ladder and is now the world's 137th biggest altcoin, sitting snuggly between BBQCoin and HunterCoin. Britcoin has a total supply of 20m coins and is offering five per cent annual interest on staked coins. With a market capitalisation of $51,810, Britcoin trades at a poultry $0.004.

According to IBTimes, free scratchcards are part of the Britcoin strategy to get the word out and distribute the coin, as well as a more conventional marketplace to trade using the digital currency.

So what does Scotcoin have to offer?

For starters, it is not going to be the "plan B" currency for Scotland that Alex Salmond's critics demand he provide.

Established by venture capitalist Derek Nisbet, it sits eleven places above Britcoin, with a market capitalisation of $67,000. Nisbet says he was inspired to develop the digital currency because of Scotalnd's uncertain future.

In March, speaking to the Guardian, Nisbet said: "There is so much uncertainty with the current financial situation, that introducing a voluntary cryptocurrency, which may in the future act as a medium of exchange for the Scottish people, can only benefit them should there be major disruption."

However, he insists he is not a nationalist.

"The motivation for us has nothing to do with the vote later this year, or politics for that matter," he says.

To gain traction amongst the public, Nisbet has offered 1,000 Scotcoins to every Scottish resident. Businesses and charities will be eligible for an even greater hand out. Despite Nisbet's claims that Scotcoin has nothing to do with politics, the cryptocurreny's website would suggest otherwise.

There now exists a Scotcoin anti-fracking in Scotland Fund, which has received 1m Scotcoins in donations. Trading at $.00008 Scotcoin is, like most altcoins, subject to extreme volatility, falling 50 per cent in the last 24 hours.

With hundreds of cryptocurrencies to choose from, some with better reputations than others, it remains to be seen whether UK residents will be attracted to decentralised peer-to-peer currency with nationalist twist. So far, it doesn't look likely.

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