Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, has come out in favour of permitting mass crypto adoption in the UK.
Since leaving the cabinet in June, Hancock has emerged as an unlikely champion for the UK’s digital asset industry, labelling crypto a “force for good” while speaking at a meeting of the London Crypto Club this week.
In an interview with City A.M. Hancock made the case for giving the public largely unfettered access to crypto and criticised “patronising” regulations which restrict the sale of high risk products to retail investors.
“Crypto currencies are happening. There’s no way that the UK can or indeed should stop them,” Hancock told City A.M..
“My strong view is that over protection of retail investors by patronising regulators leads to financial exclusion,” Hancock continued. “Let people invest – it’s only fair.”
The comments come after Rishi Sunak this week unveiled a flurry of policies aimed at transforming Britain into a “global hub” for the digital asset industry, including plans to launch a Treasury NFT.
Sunak struck a decidedly different tone to the UK’s regulatory community which has hitherto taken a cautious approach to crypto.
While just 0.1 per cent of UK household wealth is believed to be stored in digital assets Bank of England grandees have repeatedly warned that widespread adoption could threaten financial stability.
The Financial Conduct Authority barred the sale of crypto derivatives and exchange traded notes to retail consumers in 2020 and has proposed new rules which would allow only institutional or high net worth individuals respond to digital asset promotions.
“It’s not our job as government to stop people taking risks.”Matt Hancock
“The job of government is to make sure people know what risks they’re taking,” said Hancock, who does not personally own crypto. “We should make sure we apply that attitude to crypto assets.”
The UK’s former digital secretary also made short shrift of the argument that regulators should crackdown on crypto because of its use for financial crime, arguing “its a bit like saying criminals use cash, therefore we shouldn’t have cash.”
Hancock, who stepped down from his role as health secretary after CCTV footage emerged showing him breaching social distancing guidelines, told City A.M. he has relished having the freedom to promote causes he cares about, such as crypto, since leaving the cabinet.