The MPs are right -- bitcoin is just gambling and should be treated as such

Bitcoin (Alamy Stock Photo)
Bitcoin (Alamy Stock Photo)

Just one year ago – April 4 2022 to be exact – the government unveiled plans to make the UK a “global cryptoasset technology hub”.

We would be at “the cutting edge” of this new tech and encourage “further development of the…market”.

This sounded like a sop to fashion then and looks plain daft now.

Sure enough, the Treasury select committee now says we should ditch plans to regulate crypto as if it were a legitimate part of the financial services industry and treat it as if it were just another form of gambling. Which it is.

There were whines today from predictable quarters, folk with job titles like “Crypto & Digital Assets Technical Director”, that the MPs just don’t get bitcoin.

Maybe they get it well enough.

The way to think about bitcoin and the rest is as an equity. If you buy some – I own about £500 worth, at least it used to be £500 – what you are paying for is a share in a company that has no real revenues.

It is a speculative dotcom stock, like many of those that failed in the original internet boom and bust back in the early 2000s.

Fans baulk at this description, but they are blinded by belief. They think bitcoin is going to save the world, or at least rescue it from the clutches of the evil central bankers.

Committee chair Harriet Baldwin has it right. Crypto has “no intrinsic value, huge price volatility and no discernible social good”.

In other words, it’s like a William Hill shop and should be treated as such.

We can leave the global crypto tech hub to somewhere else