Few sights call to mind tradition as impressively as the Palace of Westminster – rising above the capital as a symbol of endurance and steadfastness throughout the centuries. A peculiar ally then, you may think, for the cutting edge technologies of digital currency, which have so much potential to disrupt the established order. Are politicians ready to back this technological revolution?
My invitation to a dinner debate in the House of Commons, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Digital Currencies and its Secretariat, the Digital Currency Foundation, seemed to partially answer that question. Attended by industry experts and leaders, the dinner gave us the chance to talk to parliamentarians about the exciting possibilities for collaboration between lawmakers and innovators, and for a global digital currencies market with Britain at its forefront.
That is not to say that a consensus was reached on what a digital currency friendly UK would look like, or how we might get there. Industry representatives were eloquent but frank regarding the challenges ahead. A key area will be how digital currencies are able to interact with our traditional banking sector and hard currency. Without reliable mechanisms to convert digital currencies into conventional fiat currencies, including the pound, the digital market cannot realise its potential. Some digital currency leaders present felt that traditional banks were calculatingly disinclined to deal with innovators; do they fear disruption to their status quo, and if so, how might they be incentivised to relax their stance?
MPs showed enthusiasm, but were equally eager to probe industry on what the benefits were for their constituents. Average-earners for whom digital currencies are often just a passing news headline must be reassured that they are in fact for them: cost-saving, efficient, user-friendly and secure. The same goes for small businesses and start-ups, as the Government seeks a more diversified and decentralised national economy.
Parliamentarians pressed the industry firmly on their security commitments, and rightly so. Concerns have grown in all sectors regarding money-laundering as technological advances continue; the digital currency market is no different. Industry leaders pointed to proactive, voluntary security measures to combat this, but more can always be done. Here in particular, collaboration between currency exchanges and lawmakers could reap benefits for all stakeholders.
The debate perfectly encapsulated the digital currency landscape as it exists before us: one with challenges yet to overcome and enormous potential yet to be realised. No single group, whether industrial, academic or legislative can build this digital future in a vacuum; on-going collaboration is crucial.
It was reassuring to see that both innovators and politicians don’t just want the UK to keep pace with the digital currency revolution, but lead it. That is after all why we founded LEOcoin here. Together, great things can be achieved.