NFT: Plans for Royal Mint produced token dropped by government
Plans for a government backed non-fungible token (NFT) produced by the Royal Mint have been dropped, the Treasury has announced.
Rishi Sunak ordered the creation of a “NFT for Britain” that could be traded online, while chancellor in April 2022.
NFTs are assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold, but which have no physical form of their own.
The Treasury announced it was “not proceeding with the launch” following a consultation with the Royal Mint.
But economic secretary Andrew Griffiths said the department would keep the proposal “under review”.
NFTs have been touted as the digital answer to collectables, but some sceptics fear they could be a bubble waiting to burst. They have been used as speculative assets and some have sold for millions of dollars.
Responding to the announcement, Harriet Baldwin, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said: “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.
“So perhaps that is why the Royal Mint has made this decision in conjunction with the Treasury.”
NFTs are unique units of digital data that use the same “blockchain” technology behind cryptocurrencies – such as Bitcoin. The records cannot be forged because the blockchain ledger is maintained by thousands of computers around the world.
The digital tokens, which emerged in 2014, can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets, and can be bought using traditional currency or cryptocurrency.
The Treasury is working to regulate some cryptocurrencies and had planned to enter the NFT market as part of a wider bid to make the UK a hub for digital payment companies.
In April 2022, the then-chancellor Mr Sunak said: “We want to see the [cryptocurrency] businesses of tomorrow – and the jobs they create – here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term.”
Among the best-known NFTs are a series known as the “Bored Ape Yacht Club”, which give the bearer ownership over a unique picture of a cartoon ape. Prices of the NFTs plummeted last year after crypto exchange FTX went bankrupt.