Gaining speed on tokenization is vital for UK’s financial future, banking group warns
July 6, 2023

Gaining speed on tokenization is vital for UK’s financial future, banking group warns

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Advocacy group UK Finance is urging the British government to encourage securities tokenization. The market is small now, but the future stakes are high, it said.

In a report co-written with consulting firm Oliver Wyman, UK Finance said the advantages of tokenization, such as lower costs, lower risk and wider access, are not just “a nice-to-have.” Tokenization “can transform the financial system, and the UK should be at the centre of this transformation,” it said.

UK Finance chair and former Bank of England court member Bob Wigley wrote in a Financial Times editorial timed to the report’s release:

“The UK is at risk of falling behind other financial centres, as digital bond issuance to date has been in other places such as Singapore or Switzerland. […] Our progress is similar to the US, which could quickly leap ahead given its huge financial resources, deep capital markets and technology knowhow.”

“The UK government has given some indications of its commitment to tokenisation and its enablers. Industry now requires action from government,” the report added. It held up Singapore’s Project Guardian as an example of a government exploring collaboration with the private sector to develop the use of tokenized assets.

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The United Kingdom already has a growing legal foundation that is “fit for purpose” for securities tokenization, if in need of adaptation, the report said. UK Finance suggested a road map for the U.K. to position itself as a global tokenization market leader.

The detailed plan had three components — innovation, interoperability and global standards leadership — with a five-year horizon. Financial market infrastructure sandboxes, due for launch this year by the Treasury, played a key role in the plan.

Tokenization is currently only carried out on a small scale, with 1% of $20.6 trillion of global long-term fixed-income instruments tokenized in 2021, according to research cited in the report.

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