Royal Mint shutters plans for gold-based blockchain

Royal Mint

Royal Mint

Meanwhile, trading of gold-backed digital currency or token products issued by Australia's Perth Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint is still underway, though neither would give Reuters detailed about how much gold each is holding to back the products.

The Royal Mint could not be reached for comment on the reports at the time of writing. The project was to have issued digital gold tokens valued at $1 billion. Reuters reports that CME has also invested in digital assets startups via its venture capital arm. As a result, the United Kingdom government vetoed plans to continue with the project, effectively ending efforts to develop a Royal Mint Gold cryptocurrency.

It is believed that CME left the project as its management had changed; nevertheless, this information was revealed by some unofficial sources.

When a blindsided Mint sought to save the project by partnering with a cryptocurrency exchange, Britain's finance ministry in early 2018 refused to permit it, seeing the union as too big a gamble with the reputation of the government and the Mint, the sources added. But ultimately, being wholly government owned, it came up against a problem. "Sadly, due to market conditions this did not prove possible at this time, but we will revisit this if and when market conditions are right", it said. The government did not support a proposal to have the digital token trade on crypto exchanges.

As reported, the U.K government does not broadly regulate crypto or crypto exchanges, except for certain derivatives such as crypto-based Contract For Differences (CFDs). Regulators are now looking at whether rules are needed for cryptocurrencies and the use of blockchain technology in finance.

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Gold is seen as a natural fit with cryptocurrencies because both assets attract investors looking for alternatives to state-sponsored monetary systems which they distrust.

With several startups and other mints working on similar projects, the decision could now leave the United Kingdom and the Royal Mint trailing behind, effectively destroying its chances of creating a new multi-billion dollar asset class.

The token was supposed to be launched in cooperation with the CME Group.

One of Reuters' sources claimed that "priorities shifted" away from digitization following the retirement of CEO Phupinder Gill in late 2016, followed by that of CME's head of digitization, Sandra Ro, last July.

"It is not correct to say we have "de-emphasised" digitization and remain committed to pursuing our digitization strategy".

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