The UK government has announced that it has shelved plans to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) produced by the Royal Mint. The economic secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith, confirmed that the proposal was not moving forward “at this time” but that the plan would remain under review. The move comes after the Royal Mint faced delays in releasing the token, which was originally proposed by former Chancellor and now Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak in April 2022.
The Royal Mint had previously hinted at plans to incorporate blockchain technology to track its gold supply in 2017. However, the NFT collection will not be moving forward at present due to economic uncertainty in the cryptocurrency sector, according to Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Harriet Baldwin. Baldwin cited a lack of evidence that constituents should invest in NFTs, stating that “perhaps that is why the Royal Mint has made this decision in conjunction with the Treasury.”
Despite the UK’s decision to put the plan on hold, other global leaders are signaling their willingness to embrace NFTs and other Web3 technologies. In December 2022, China launched the first state-backed NFT marketplace, which will be operated by three state-owned and commercial organizations. Huban Digital, a private corporation; China Technology Exchange, a government-backed entity, and Art Exhibitions China will run the marketplace.
Japan has also announced plans to invest in NFTs and metaverse services. The country hopes to lead the world in the creation of a “human-centered society,” with a focus on creating a digital economy that benefits everyone. The move is part of the country’s digital transformation plans, which it hopes will accelerate its post-pandemic economic recovery.
It is worth noting that NFTs have gained popularity in recent years, with some selling for millions of dollars. NFTs are unique digital assets that are stored on a blockchain, making them tamper-proof and easily transferable. They can be used to represent a wide range of digital assets, from artwork and music to video game items and virtual real estate.
Meanwhile, the UK government will continue to review the proposal, and the chief financial minister will be asked if issuing an NFT “remains the policy of his department,” according to Baldwin. It is unclear when the UK government will reconsider the proposal.
The Royal Mint’s NFT collection aimed to “highlight the importance of Britain’s heritage and celebrate British icons.” The collection would have included images of the Queen, Winston Churchill, and Beatrix Potter, among others.
The shelving of the UK’s NFT plan will be a disappointment to the crypto community, which has been eagerly anticipating the launch. However, with other countries making progress in this area, it is possible that the UK may reconsider its position in the future.
Despite their popularity, NFTs have faced criticism for being environmentally damaging, as the energy required to produce them is often high. Some have also questioned their value, with some critics arguing that they are simply a speculative investment and have little real-world value.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding NFTs, it is clear that they are here to stay. As countries around the world continue to explore their potential, it will be interesting to see how they are used in the future. For now, the UK’s NFT plan remains on hold, but that may change as the country’s stance on cryptocurrencies evolves.