Speaker 1 00:00:10 Hello and welcome back to another episode of Tron Policy Report. I'm your host, Andrew Hemingway. On this podcast, we seek to provide to you insights and knowledge that you'll not find anywhere else. We do this by interviewing leading authorities on the blockchain, crypto, and regulation from around the world. Please make sure to subscribe to the Tron policy report and be sure to join us every other Wednesday for a new episode. And now a look at the headlines
Speaker 1 00:00:43 In the news. The last two weeks have been a flurry of regulatory action from around the globe, but the biggest story driving headlines was the recent announcement by Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission. The SFC detailed in a 361 page report, a regulatory framework that is decidedly pro crypto and laid the foundation for licensing and reporting of virtual asset trading companies. The S F C C E O, Julia Long said quote, as has been our philosophy since 2018. Our proposed requirements for virtual asset trading platforms include robust measures to protect investors following the same business, same risk, same rules principle. The proposals includes a host of prerequisites including the safe custody of assets, know your customer, conflicts of interest, cybersecurity, accounting and auditing, risk management, anti-money laundering, counter financing of terrorism, and of course prevention of market misconduct. Hong Kong's, S F C also intends to publish and maintain a list of licensed cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers to inform the general public of the registration statuses of different firms. And yes, retail investors will be allowed to participate. The news was widely received with optimism and undoubtedly put pressure on other countries to provide the same framework. And now our guest, Dr. Lisa Cameron,
Speaker 1 00:02:23 Guests this week on Theran policy report is Dr. Lisa Cameron, member of Parliament, the UK House of Commons, and she is the chair of the crypto and digital assets all party parliamentary group. And we are very excited to have you on the show, Dr. Lisa, where that you are willing to take time out of your very busy schedule to, to join with us. And I think the question that is probably most appropriate as we open up this conversation around crypto and digital assets in the UK and the regulation that that's those things is how in the world did you end up coming to chair this group on crypto and digital assets?
Speaker 2 00:03:06 Thank you so much for having me. It's a real privilege to speak with you today and you've caught me on a good week because we are on our recess from Parliament, so we're not quite so busy in the chamber this week. So it's a great question to start with. I think it was entirely accidental in a way. I had a constituent of mine who had emailed me and said that they had a difficult experience. They had lost some money due to a scam linked with cryptocurrency, and could I put them in touch with the person who was leading up on this in the parliament? So I said, of course I will. And then I started to look for that person and very quickly realized the person didn't exist and there was no, uh, all part of parliamentary group focused on cryptocurrency at that point. Following from that, I had some further discussions with my constituent who felt that and actually highlighted to me that millions of people in the United Kingdom are engaged in cryptocurrency.
Speaker 2 00:04:08 They're engaged with this sector, so why is there, why was there not something happening in the parliament? And they felt it was just so very important. So I said, leave it with me. I'll go away and I'll try to do some further research. I then had a look and not only did we not have an all part of Parliament group at that point in time focused on cryptocurrency, but we also hadn't had any debates in the House of Commons Chamber on the subject. And I thought, wow, all of these millions of people are involved in the sector. There's all these technological advancements happening and the public are way ahead of the parliament in this realm. So we set up the group just the following months and I had support from Crypto UK as a secretariat, and we took it from there and just felt that it was such an important issue, but had little coverage in the parliament, a real lack of understanding. And I include myself at that point in time. And there was a huge amount of work to be done in order to catch up with what was going on, how engagement was happening with our local constituents right across the uk, those who were having positive experiences and opportunities from the sector and those who were having challenges just like the constituent that had contacted me. So that's really the journey that that we
Speaker 1 00:05:32 Start. That's an amazing, that's an amazing thing, one, that you have a member of parliament who is listening to their constituents and picks up their cause and steps forward, right? And that's something that not many, not many citizens could say about their, whether it's a member of Congress or others feel like perhaps they don't get listened to. So I think that is a credit to you and it's an amazing thing. And also it's wonderful that the work that's being done around crypto and digital assets is really from the ground up. And that is all about, that is true to the ethos of cryptocurrency. And so that's a, it's a wonderful thing. Now, I saw some video of Andrew Griffiths laing your group with, with praise. It seemed, normally when I see videos of parliament, I see uh, some snappy bites, love some, uh, comments back and forth. But that was a very pleasant exchange that I saw. He was, uh, the work of the group. And so what are some of the, the things that as, as the chair of this group and as a member partner, what are some of the things that you are working on and looking forward to as far as cryptocurrency and digital assets in the uk?
Speaker 2 00:06:33 Thank you. And yes, I do have a really good relationship prosperity in terms of this sector. And as I say, I think it's because it started so very naturally and we all really came together from a starting point. Also from the ground up, as you say, just learning on our journey together. We have members of the House of Commons and members of the House of Lords who are engaged in the group. We have been working over the first months now that the group has been established on education within the parliament, really we've taken ourselves from the position where when people came to present and you have your own texted jargon, I would call it, linked with the technology. And so we took ourselves from the starting point whereby when people came to speak to us about FS at the start, we had some members saying, why are we speaking about types of car spheres type of car actually going from base points of having very limited knowledge of the jargon and the tech, the sort of technology that was along with the equipment sector in terms of blockchain, et cetera.
Speaker 2 00:07:38 So limited knowledge right up to educating ourselves, but bringing in members of the parliament through um, those sessions who are skeptical, who you know are challenging. Also those who are maybe have a finance background who are perhaps more positive. So right across the board we have interest, and actually this year when we did our second o our ATM for the group, we've doubled our membership and there are a number of other groups bringing up in the parliament looking at C B D C looking, looking at specific issues like web three since our group form. So it's been successful in generating momentum and interest, but we started with a kind of remit of education, bringing ourselves up to speed so that we could have a debate in the parliament. We've now had two, two debates in parliament on the issue. And we are, we're building expertise so that when we have these debates, it's not just stuff from the newspaper, which is quite sensational.
Speaker 2 00:08:42 We want it to be evidence-based and informed opinions that we're able to give. But it's not the type of sector that you can just pick up something, read it for five minutes, then go into the house of performance chamber and speak, right? You have to do a bit of background work. So we've been doing that with a range of members of parliament across all of the parties. We've also had a number of events in Parliament, very successful looking at getting mps to engage more directly with the sector and with businesses and looking at opportunities in terms of jobs of the future, innovation, research development, technological advancements, and bringing our understanding from a position of looking, I suppose initially the finance sector, to realizing that the technology surrounding crypto and blockchain and the whole sector, if you combine it with Web three, really has potential to be almost like another industrial revolution for much larger than that, larger than industry into arts and health and so many different realms.
Speaker 2 00:09:47 Yes. So it, it's actually really grown in momentum but also grown in terms of the depth we've been looking at the issues. So I'm very much interested now in year two to be looking at international based practice regulatory framework around the world and international interoperability of the work that we are doing. We've um, got some visits lined up to look in more depths at mica. And I think given Brexit the matter where anyone in the UK has stood in terms of poor anti Brexit, that's where we're at. But it does give the opportunity to have a be bulk regulatory regime for the uk. So we want to really put our efforts into looking at an evidence-based, um, sort of what's working, where there are problems in other jurisdictions. Trying to think about the bespoke regime for the uk and that sits quite neatly with the first inquiry that we were doing, which is looking at prime minister's vision of a cryptocurrency hub when the UK having a leadership role alongside other jurisdictions. So I think that's why it's very cross-party, it's why it was quite consensual, what you viewed on in terms of the exchanges and the commons and why I've really sought to engage with government very positively because we need to work together and collaborate to bring ourselves up to speed, create the cryptocurrency hub vision that government have together in the parliament across the commons and the Lords, and really worked together on this journey to make this happen.
Speaker 1 00:11:24 Yeah, so it, it's been interesting. I think it was two years ago, I could be wrong about the timing, but I think it was about two years ago when really the first, you heard the first time the UK about the Prime Minister and it seemed the government was aligned with them in saying that the idea, and you just used this term again of making uh, the UK the crypto hub of the world. And it was, uh, it was of course when it came out this big announcement and there was great fanfare and then things became real quiet for what seemed like quite a while as you just explained. There's obviously a lot of internal education that was needed, a lot of internal work, but suddenly in the last two weeks, three weeks, something like that, we've seen a flurry of activity, several new statements, reports coming out. Could you just brief us on the current status and how these things were received by parliament?
Speaker 2 00:12:16 Yeah, I think the most recent announcement was on the Central Bank digital currency announcements, right out to consultation. The minister also said in the debate that I, he held in the parliament about a month ago now, that he was gonna be having a consultation more generally on the cryptocurrency vision and having people from industry come in so that they can formulate how best to take that forward. And we'll also be meeting with him as an all party group as part of that process. So as I said that there's been a lot happening. We have had a bit of turmoil in the parliament, as you will be aware, as we swear on sort of third party minister now. Yes. So the vision has perhaps changed over time and then come back to Rishi, who I think is someone who is interested in the technological advancement of the uk, particularly in FinTech, but also in other areas too and has that kind of background himself.
Speaker 2 00:13:11 So Right. So there's been a flurry of announcements. It's still a consultation stage, however, so I am asking everyone to get involved, engage, please do engage because that's, we are on this learning curve, but we can only do it in conjunction with government and with industry Yeah. And with consumers. So we want to have something that's pragmatic and we want to be able to anticipate some of the issues beforehand so that we can have a framework that, that that's practicable in terms and workable for business. Yeah, I'm very excited about it all to be honest, because I wasn't quite sure as I told you at the start of what I was getting into Yeah. At this start. But the more I have learned, the more I have gotten involved, the more excited I get really because as I say, we started off with quite a narrow financial focus.
Speaker 2 00:14:05 I'm now also looking at, I've spoken with the chair of the International Aid Committee and International Development Committee. So we're also looking at those types of developments and I've raised that issue in the chamber as well. Can blockchain be used? Make sure that our UK aid is simplified in a sense, gets to the most vulnerable, costs out some of the intermediaries and is much more cost effective and has a wider reach for the same amount of funding. And I've also been, my background is health really, and I, I've also been reading up a lot about how blockchain can help in terms of health records Yeah. And technological advancements in healthcare. So I'm interested in that. And I think there's a massive education piece as well and jobs of the future. And now when I'm thinking about jobs of the future, when I was at school, I, my family were be a lawyer or a doctor crediting, is that gonna be the job of the future?
Speaker 2 00:15:00 There's going to be a lot of AI and robotics and things that's going to take over many functions, right. Of traditional good jobs. So I think we have to change our framework. Think about what I want to do over the next year as well, I've said to the A P P D is I want a framework of where in the youth Canadian, the universities and college courses are that math want to these jobs of the futures in innovation and technology and FinTech. And we want to make sure we can level that up so it's not all situated in London, but no matter where you live in the uk, you can have those opportunities because I think some of this advancement is going to be extremely, it's gonna be crucial to a way of life in the future. And the younger generation are gonna have to drive that I think as well.
Speaker 1 00:15:47 Yeah, it's an amazing, it's an amazing moment in history I think as we see multiple technological advances converging Yeah. In a point in time. And to be sitting in a seat like yours where you have the opportunity to really shepherd the, that innovation forward is, it's an incredible, it's incredible privilege I would imagine for you to be able to, it's
Speaker 2 00:16:11 Cut. Absolutely. It's such a privilege and it's, I just so thankful that I'm able to try to harness that in my work in the parliament because as I say, I think we're on the cusp of something just so important. And I do want the UK to be at the forefront of that. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:16:28 Now as you, as these consultations move forward and as these debates go forward as more discussions of course unfold over the next coming months and years, really, I would imagine how influential is, or I guess I have two questions. One is, how influential is the EU framework in Mika on the thinking and construction of your own policy? And then also you touched briefly on the UK being independent and able to create its own bespoke regulatory regime. I think what advantages does that present for the people of the UK and the vision of the UK hub?
Speaker 2 00:17:05 Yeah, I th think those are great questions. We're going to be, um, actually taking the A P P PPG over to Brussels this year. Okay. And also to Paris to find out about the legislators, their engagement there, how that's gone to find out more about Mika to the cap, what works there. The EU is going to need a, a different sort of regime from the UK I would think. But there will be aspects that would be best practice and then we can look at that in detail. But I think as you said, as well post Brexit, we can create our own bespoke regulatory framework. And I think we do need to proceed at pace because it's the type of area where you don't want to be way behind. But I'm also, we're in discussions with government that the UK is rarely the first mover in things either.
Speaker 2 00:17:55 So if you like see what's happening elsewhere and pick up what works and then look at where some problems are in trying to avoid those and compared to development as well to place the UK in one of the leadership roles there. So I think there's gonna be a lot of collaboration. I think this area is also gonna have to be an area of international collaboration as well as, so it's not just gonna be about competition. So I think, you know, although we speak about regulatory frameworks in the EU and in the uk, there's also gonna have to be an overarching framework Yeah. As well internationally that's developed. Yeah. So we need to move at pace, but we don't want to move too quickly that we create something that has mistakes in it. So the timing of it's crucial shock, the work we're doing helps to support the work that government's doing on that.
Speaker 2 00:18:45 We are also very mindful of course, that we are likely to have elections next year as well. So that's why it's really crucial that it it it's cross-party that we're working. And what I want to see is that no matter which government comes higher the next election, that the work of the group continues and there's progress and that it's not that dismantled in terms of what we do. So that's why it's, I think it's just really vital that we have buy-in in the commons and the house of awards from conservatives, from labor, from ems, from other parties, s and p and that we work together on these issues. And so it's actually quite an important role that the A P D has moving
Speaker 1 00:19:23 Forward. Right. Right now the cryptocurrency and digital asset space, I think we have, we did earlier in one of your conversations, but it's so massive and it is a part of every single, some little part of it can apply to almost every single industry and every single space. So I think my question just as thinking about this is how do you balance the protection of innocent investors who, who find their way involved in something that is a scam or something like that at the same time also helping to craft a regulatory framework that that incentivize and moves forward. The needful innovation of the technology. How do you balance those things and how are you, how are you that
Speaker 2 00:20:13 Yeah, and I think from my starting point and my journey into the sectors, I've always felt that protection should be at the core of everything we're doing. Really I think there's gonna be a huge awareness raising piece and sort of education piece for the public as well. And any sort of regulatory framework's gonna have to have me dressed so that those who are impacted are able to, to challenge what's happened to them and to be able to have some mechanism for justice in that sense. Yeah. So that's been my sort of core starting point. And as I say from that has, you know, been the work of the group and we're looking at the inquiry just now to balance all of the issues that you've been been raising there. So we've had a number of written submissions, many written submissions to our inquiry looking at the vision of the trip to currency hub that the Prime Minister has set out.
Speaker 2 00:21:09 And we've also been looking at cyber crime and we've taken evidence from specialists and we've, we've also spoken to traditional banking, we've spoken to F C A, so we we're really trying to reach out to make sure that we have information from the diversity of actors really within the sector that we can we, and then to pull that together into initial recommendations for governments. Because I feel like even although we're doing this short inquiry just now, as you said, the scope of the sector is massive. So from that first inquiry, I then foresee subsequent inquiries where we begin to look at perhaps C B D C perhaps things. And then we might also start to look at the techno technology, roundabout this blockchain and look at international aid and can we streamline some of the other work that we do in other departments and government at a starting point really.
Speaker 2 00:22:09 Yeah, we've come quite far in a year. I think the momentum's built in the parliament and I'm really proud that so many people are involved now that we can host debates and people can speak in an informed way and that the momentum keeps building. And actually as I said, there are many offshoots now from our group, which people have said to me, oh, do you feel that's a kind of competitive challenge? No, because this is a massive sector. I need all the support I can have from colleagues to take forward their particular interests. We have the web three group that's up and running now and I am a member of that group, but obviously with limited capacity, someone else is chairing that group. But I'm just like so interested to see how we collaborate and take forward the issues on Metaverse and web three linked with the work we are doing.
Speaker 2 00:22:57 We, there's a specific A P G leading up on C B D C, now it, the momentum's just keeping going. And I think that's great and I think it's also necessary because as you said, this is going to be very key to the future of technology and our sort of engagement with it. Yeah. And the combination of the technological advances with the crypto sector is going to be I think a massive, massive issue future. And I'm glad that we're starting to harness it in the parliaments, but the collaboration's very welcome. I don't see any threatening, I want to have as many people as possible on board because that's when we're gonna get good regulations, that's when we're gonna have the challenges we need to are thinking on it. And we also want to reach out, as I said internationally, to look at best practice practice because the UK doesn't have all the answers itself. We need to collaborate. And as I said, I think there's also going to be, or going to need to be a kind of international regulatory overview of the sector as
Speaker 1 00:23:59 Well. Right now, uh, one of the things that I've noticed from afar from, from my side of the ocean here is how the, how it seems to me like the vision from the prime minister and even though it's perhaps changed hands a couple of times, ha ha has stayed in that same place as the crypto hub. But it also seems to me that there's great unity uh, through, through many facets of the, the UK government, uc, for instance, the work of Sarah Green, I mean the law commission, there's, I think that the work that they've done in the research around digital assets has been phenomenal. You obviously see the work that in the nonprofit side with the crypto uk. It just seems to me like there is such around this idea and to your point, there's so many various per moving forward. Is this issued unique in the UK as being able to collaborate so freely across whether it's party lines or through parliament and government and nonprofit and education? Is it unique in the sense of how so many of these stakeholders are coming together and collaborating and moving forward? Is that contributing to that momentum you're referring to?
Speaker 2 00:25:08 Yeah. Is my dog's just jumped up my fridge <laugh>? No, no problem. No actually here, but we have a very comfy sofa here, so he's come to join me. Yeah. Link to your podcast as well. Yeah, I think we have great collaboration across many different professions as well and that's really needed in the sector and that's been great. But we've come from a starting point where the UK is world-leading in FinTech anyway, so we've got great building blocks there, fantastic universities, innovator hubs. We're pretty good at doing that kind of stuff. So this should, we should have the foundation there I think. But no, I don't think it's unique to the UK either. Because one of the sort of inspirations I had as well is when I went to zoo to visit Dr. Valley and I spoke to the parliamentarians there and they, and at that stage I was still feeling my way and feeling a bit out of my decks and thinking, my goodness, this is massive.
Speaker 2 00:26:04 How do I try to bring this together in a meaningful way through the all part parliamentary groups, so the work that we are doing. But they were just so helpful and explained that they had been on a similar journey and this is not a journey that starts and stops very quickly. You keep learning because the sector's always developing and grace. So as you're always learning and they had, they told me they've had a number of years of education, sections the problem, et cetera. So still doing that and, and I think that just gave me great faith that we are all on a kind of similar journey and we can learn from each other and I think the collaboration is going to be really vital for the future as well. Internet.
Speaker 1 00:26:48 Yeah, no, for sure. Could you talk to me just for the few minutes that we have left here, would you just give me an idea or vision of what the digital pound looks like hopes to accomplish? Does it replace stablecoin, does it cancel out stablecoin or is there an environment or a place where Stablecoin and CBD B D C exists together in the uk?
Speaker 2 00:27:11 I think they'll probably be coexistence. That's all still being fleshed out in consultation. I thi I think things are moving digital now if you were to, and I think Covid probably fed that up as well. Yeah. So you know, whilst we still need to have a place for cash, because some of the most vulnerable people in our society are very dependent on cash, I'd like to see is with move to the digital pound is faster payments, lower cost for people, maybe more inclusion in the finance sector because we still have people who are very much excluded from bank accounts, et cetera, in the world of finance. So I'm hoping that it can be something that has utility in that. In fact, I think it's gonna have to have or else people won't use it. But we've moved really to digital payments anyway and this is just the next step along the road I think.
Speaker 2 00:28:07 And people want to know that when they're using digital finance, that it's back top. So I think for it to be backed by Sterling is important through them, but I don't think it will completely take the place of stable cons, et cetera. I think there will be innovations alongside that, but we're at the early stage now of the consultation. I'll defer to the experts who come along and are able to flesh that out a bit more for you. But my feeling is this sector's gonna grow and that there's room for many different aspects of utility for the future. And that will probably include B, D, C and stable
Speaker 1 00:28:44 Points. No, I'm absolutely, it's a incredible moment like we said that we're sitting at and really excited to have the opportunity to talk with you and to just get a glimpse, a little bit of some of the work and the vision and leadership that you are providing to, to the uk. So thankful that you are willing to give us just a few minutes of your time and share some of that knowledge have been extremely helpful for us. So I just wanna say thank you to you for your willingness to do this and I hope that we can talk again and as things continue to progress, we'd love to have you back on to talk about some of these things in further detail.
Speaker 2 00:29:20 Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to do that. And obviously I'm also very keenly watching what's happening in the US too, and the UK and the US are great partners in many ways, want that to continue, particularly in this area as well.
Speaker 1 00:29:33 Absolutely. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2 00:29:36 Thank you.