Why aren't Bitcoiners popping open the champagne right now, given a politician with an interest in this technology is now leading one of the world's biggest economies?
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Connor Sephton writes...
Barely two months after a crushing defeat the last time a British prime minister was chosen, Rishi Sunak has made a stunning comeback. Today is his first day in Downing Street.
You may be wondering why this is the top story on CoinMarketCap. But here's the thing — he's pretty pro-crypto. Back in April, he unveiled plans to recognize stablecoins as a payment method, and get the government to release an NFT.
So why aren't Bitcoiners popping open the champagne right now, given a politician with an interest in this technology is now leading one of the world's biggest economies?
In short, it's because he's previously expressed support for central bank digital currencies — or as it would be known in London… Britcoin.
Sunak believes that a CBDC could change the way that consumers and businesses make payments — and usher the financial system into the 21st century. Bitcoiners really disagree on this one. They fear a digital pound or dollar could be used for mass surveillance — with people blocked from spending money freely. A video of Sunak talking about CBDCs is doing the rounds on Crypto Twitter, with maximalists arguing that his enthusiasm shows why Bitcoin is so badly needed.
However, you could argue what he's saying is being taken out of context. In that video, he clearly says CBDCs should be a complement to cash — not a replacement — and privacy should be a key consideration when one is being designed.
Whether Bitcoiners believe this or not, Sunak's interest in CBDCs — and his pro-crypto stance — is a bit of a moot point anyway. Such policies are going to be very low down on his list of priorities. The U.K. is grappling with a cost of living crisis, spiraling interest rates, and uncertainty over energy supplies this winter. Worse still, the Conservative Party is in a state of disarray.
A general election has to take place no later than January 2025 too, and current opinion polls suggest that Sunak would suffer a crushing defeat. He might not even have time to make his crypto ambitions a reality… and could be gone before a CBDC even begins to be built.
U.K. gets crypto-friendly prime minister 🇬🇧
The U.K. now has its third prime minister this year — and he's pretty pro-crypto. Rishi Sunak has previously expressed ambitions of transforming the country into a global hub for cryptoassets. When he was finance minister back in April, he unveiled plans to make stablecoins a recognized form of payment in Britain. But his news that the Royal Mint would release a non-fungible token was described as "tone deaf." Sunak has become one of the richest British prime ministers in history, and has an estimated net worth of $823 million. He's also the country's first Hindu PM — and aged 42, the youngest leader for over 200 years. Given the multiple crises that the U.K. is facing right now, crypto-friendly policies are unlikely to be top of his agenda.
Chinese intelligence 'used BTC for bribe' 🚨
Two Chinese intelligence officers have been accused of attempting to bribe a U.S. government employee with a Bitcoin payment. They allegedly sent $41,000 in BTC in an attempt to steal files about a criminal investigation into an unnamed global telecoms company. While the defendants believed their contact had been recruited to work for the People's Republic of China, they were actually a double agent with the FBI. It's claimed that the double agent had been asked to find out which of the company's employees had been interviewed by the government — and obtain a description of evidence, witness lists and trial strategies. If convicted, the man who sent the Bitcoin transfer could face 40 years in prison.
ANOTHER project halts withdrawals 😡
Yet another crypto project has abruptly announced that it's halting withdrawals — following in the footsteps of Celsius Network and Voyager Digital. Freeway had enticed users by claiming they could earn up to 43% annual rewards through things called "Superchargers" — simulations of major crypto and fiat currencies. But the platform has now suspended its services in response to what it describes as "unprecedented" volatility in the markets. In a statement, Freeway said it was diversifying its asset base "to manage exposure to future market fluctuation and volatility, ensuring the long-term sustainability and profitability" of its ecosystem. Freeway Token has fallen by 81% over the past seven days.
FTX to pay out $6m after phishing scam 💰
Sam Bankman-Fried has announced that it will compensate phishing victims to the tune of $6 million — even though the attack didn't target FTX directly. On Twitter, he explained that a trading bot provider called Three Commas had been targeted. This meant users ended up visiting a fake version of its website, and handed over their FTX API key. SBF warned that "this sucks" and the industry needs to do more to tackle phishing attacks. And in capital letters on Twitter, he stressed this payout is a "ONE TIME THING" and "NOT A PRECEDENT." He also appealed to the scammer directly and said that, if 95% of the funds were returned within 24 hours, they wouldn't face criminal action. That would mean a $300,000 profit for the attacker.