Britcoin is the name used casually for some kind of digital pound. The decline in the use of physical cash for payments and the use of smart phones with digital wallets or apps has led to the UK Government contemplating what a digital pound might look like.
A consultation on that topic is underway. There are some important questions about digital money. Not least the 1.2 million people who don't have bank accounts, privacy, Government monitoring of spending and more.
The name Britcoin is really a nod to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Bitcoin is often cited as being anonymous. It isn't. Each transaction is recorded. Cash is currently the main anonymous currency in the world. A present the Government prints physical cash. Less of it is being used but there is a need for the certainty that cash provides. Making a payment with digital cash issued by the Government might well be a way of providing citizens with the same utility as cash in a world that is using less of it.
Cash has some advantages. Being trusted, anonymous and easy to transfer in a person-to-person transaction are just some. On the other side working for cash, and not paying tax, is tempting. Cash is also expensive to move and secure.
Digital currency is already in use. Whether it's Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Gift Cards, contactless or something else. People are already using digital cash. The question now is whether the Government can play a role to ensure that people are not excluded from this. A well designed socially responsible digital currency has a role.
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