Despite London’s status as the financial capital of the world, cryptocurrency has, since its inception, had a difficult time in the UK. A United Kingdom-wide bank blacklist of Bitcoin companies has meant any company in the Bitcoin industry has been forced to bank elsewhere in Europe.
Even Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, only takes UK deposits that are sent through the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) system, a European Union payment-integration initiative, to a bank in Estonia. This problem is only set to be compounded by the UK’s exit from the European Union, whereby this system is likely unable to see continued use in the UK, dependent on its exit deal.
Nonetheless, searches for “buy bitcoin” in the UK have seen a monumental rise since December 2017, after the cryptocurrency’s price surged from under $1,000 (£724) at the start of 2017 to almost $20,000 (£14,487) in December.
Alternative cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple have witnessed similarly drastic rises in the UK as professional and armchair investors alike attempt to make their millions off the ‘next Bitcoin’.
There are difficulties for Bitcoin-purchasing consumers too, as UK banks block legitimate purchases of the cryptocurrency from reputable retailers in the UK in an attempt to slow the rise of the bank-alternative cryptocurrency that deprives the institutions of the transactions fees that line their pockets. As of 2016, Lloyds Bank Plc, which accounts for 27% of the UK banking market share, was still blocking these transactions.
However, anyone in the cryptocurrency community will tell you it will take more than this to stem the flow of money and ideas into the industry. Mainstream banks’ attempts to stifle its growth only serve to legitimise it as a genuine threat to their archaic and extortionate chokehold on banking. Coinbase’s exchange platform, GDAX maintains a BTC/GBP trading pair with a 24-hour volume valued at $5,072,640.
Moreover, one of the first European major conferences dedicated to cryptocurrency investments, ICO Event London, is set to take place 11th October 2018. Some of the key issues to be discussed are the consequences of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom for the cryptocurrency industry and international economy, ICO regulation, and the challenges associated with ICOs. The event also allows companies to pitch their ICO to potential investors, and lawyers, analysts, banking sector representatives, and developers to network. ICO Watchlist reports that $2,206,314,362 was raised by ICOs last year, so this event proves to be promising.
Author: Charlie McCombie