Chancellor George Osborne says Government will explore role of Bitcoin in economy

Bitcoin: just one of the virtual currencies that the UK Government will explore
Bitcoin: just one of the virtual currencies that the UK Government will explore

The Government is to examine the role of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and explore how they can help the UK become a leader in "financial innovation", with chancellor George Osborne set to unveil the Treasury's strategy in a speech later today.

Part of the Government’s plans will be to look into whether or not so-called "cryptocurrencies" pose a risk and should be regulated. The Government has in the past expressed concerns about virtual currencies being used for illegal practices such as tax evasion and money laundering.

Osborne is due to speak at Canary Wharf in London today, when according to the BBC, he will say: "Only by harnessing innovations in finance, alongside our existing world-class knowledge and skills in financial services, that we'll ensure Britain's financial sector continues to meet the diverse needs of businesses and consumers here and around the globe".

Virtual currencies have gained traction in parallel with the growth of ecommerce. Bitcoin is not the only virtual currency on the market – others include Litecoin and dogecoin.

The concept of virtual currencies is proving increasingly attractive to investors. At the end of 2013, Bitcoin start-up Coinbase, a company that lets people trade in Bitcoins through its online wallet, attracted $25m (£15.3m) backing from a venture capital firm.

In today's speech, Osborne will outline measures such as examining virtual currency regulation and looking into enabling businesses to source loans from providers other than banks.

Earlier this year, Marketing spoke to Javier Marti, chief executive of BitcoinGlobalInvestments.com, which serves high net-worth individuals, corporations and start-ups that either want to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, or that want to invest in it.

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