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British Prime Minister Sunak’s plans for UK NFT on ice

Consultation with the Treasury puts non-fungible token proposals under review

In what can only be described as a typically British piece of dithering, the Treasury said it has decided to put plans for the Royal Mint to launch an NFT — announced with great fanfare last year — on hold.

In a written answer in Parliament, Andrew Griffith, Conservative MP and economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “In consultation with HM Treasury, the Royal Mint is not proceeding with the launch of a Non-Fungible Token at this time but will keep this proposal under review.”

In April last year, the Treasury proudly announced — on Twitter! — it had asked the Royal Mint to create an NFT to be issued by the summer, by the decree of Rishi Sunak, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. The decision showed “the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK,” the Treasury said at the time.

In the intervening period, the UK political theater has seen enough turmoil, intrigue and back-stabbing to fill a five-season HBO box set. However, no token — fungible or otherwise — has emerged from the Royal Mint. True to national character, the UK’s oldest company and maker of the national coins is probably deeply embarrassed at having been so bold and now nursing a cup of tea and a Digestive hoping it will all blow over.

The move perhaps typifies the island nation’s sometimes wavering attitude to backing tech trends and winners.

In March, now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans for the UK to become a science and technology superpower by 2030, alongside a “raft” of new measures backed by over £370 million ($455 million) in funding, or about half of a percent of Larry Ellison’s estimated wealth.

But a recent speech by Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey betrays an oh-is-it-all-really-worth-the-bother note of resignation.

Noting a fall in manufacturing productivity since the financial crises, he speculated that “new ideas have become harder to come by, or perhaps technological innovation and specialisation have faded as globalisation slowed.”

After all that, we can only assume he put on his slippers, lit a pipe and settled down to a comfy evening reading The Wisden Guide to County Cricket Grounds. ®

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