The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the world’s largest economies, coming in fifth in the International Monetary Fund’s rankings. This is not surprising, as the UK’s economy is highly developed, with a focus on the service sector. The City of London is one of the largest financial hubs in the world. The history of traditional banking in the UK goes as far back as 1672, when C. Hoare & Co. opened for business.

In a country where these financial practices are so ingrained, one might ask whether Bitcoin, with its decentralised monetary model, stands a chance? The introduction of cryptocurrency has been met with some official resistance in the UK. However, new developments hint that the country may be positioning to become a leader in fintech innovation.

If you’re anywhere in the British Isles and curious about Bitcoin UK, this article aims to inform you on the current situation regarding Bitcoin in the UK, as well as how to buy bitcoins in the UK using a bank transfer or a debit or credit card.

Government Regulation

Bitcoin and other cryptos have met with some resistance from world governments and in the UK, the situation is no different. This resistance is evident even at the highest levels of government. In January of 2018, Theresa May, then Prime Minister, expressed her views on cryptocurrency and the fintech industry in general. She noted that digital currencies need to be taken “very seriously” and are “something we need to look at.” This signaled her directive for state-level research into the crypto space to begin.

A more extreme view was expressed by an opposition minister in March of 2018. The Shadow Home Secretary of the UK, Diane Abbott, labeled Bitcoin a “gigantic Ponzi scheme.” In an interview with The House Magazine, Abbott mentioned the “need” for regulation of Bitcoin and its “high risk of collapse.” Abbott is known for making strongly-worded statements, so whether her views are to be taken seriously by the British public is questionable.

Also in March 2018, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, also called for the regulation of Bitcoin and other cryptos. Carney that the same rules which govern fiat money should be applied to crypto, although it’s uncertain whether this is practicable. Carney expressed concern that Bitcoin could lead to financial instability issues due to its volatility. In January of 2021, the new Governor, Andew Bailey, expressed his view that crypto will fail over the long term due to their inherent financial privacy measures being unacceptable to regulators.

Despite all these pronouncements, no severe regulations have yet been passed regarding Bitcoin in the UK. In January of 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned crypto derivatives and exchange-traded notes for retail investment. However, this only affects those looking to trade crypto-based instruments through traditional stock markets. In December of 2020, the FCA tightened the license requirements for new crypto companies within the UK. There may be more measures in the pipeline however, so UK-based crypto enthusiasts should keep an ear to the ground… 

While regulation may be a safer path for the protection of the UK’s traditional financial institutions and government. However, this goes against Bitcoin’s role as a decentralised monetary system. Bitcoin empowers people with greater financial freedom but more regulation would only counteract this advantage.

A Change of Heart

More recent statements from UK officials indicate that they may be reconsidering the role of cryptocurrency, becoming more receptive to its benefits. Although fears of heavy-handed regulation persist, British research into blockchain technology has begun at the state level.

On the 19th of March 2018, John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, said that he wishes to establish the UK’s as a leading country for fintech and blockchain adoption. Therefore, the government will be implementing a “research effort” into the risks and potential of cryptocurrency.

Not even a week later, the UK’s central bank, The Bank of England, and the country’s Financial Conduct Authority corroborated Glen’s statement. They say that their newly-created Cryptoassets Task Force aims to address the risks of crypto but also to advance awareness and adoption. Between 2019 and 2020, the UK was ranked 14th out of 154 for cryptocurrency adoptions. A survey conducted in January of 2021 found that 31% of British citizens are curious regarding cryptocurrency.

Should this initiative lead government to a more-informed position conducive to passing sensible legislation, it’s likely that British financial institutions and its general population will flock to crypto. This might not be such a distant outcome either.

In July of 2018, The Guardian reported on analysis by DAG Global, Big Innovation Centre, and Deep Knowledge Analytics. These research groups concluded that the UK is well-positioned to become a global hub in the crypto economy by 2022. This conclusion was based on half billion Pounds worth of investment into the blockchain space made by UK companies over the last year, as well as the strength of the UK’s traditional financial sector. With the NHS announcing in early 2021 that it will use blockchain tech to track supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. With further government acceptance of the tech, perhaps the 2022 projection may yet be borne out.

Buying Bitcoin in the UK

If you’re in the UK and looking to get involved in crypto, Coinmama makes it easy to buy bitcoin in the UK via a bank transfer or your debit or credit card. Just follow these few simple steps to become the proud owner of some bitcoins:

Step 1 – Create Your Coinmama Account

1. Head to the main corporate header menu and select the light blue “Sign Up” tab at the top right (or click here). Note: if you already have an account, just sign in via the “Log In” button with your existing login details (or click here).

Coinmama website

2. Enter your email, password, first name, last name and your country of residence.

3. Look for an email from Coinmama asking you to confirm your account. Click the link in the email to complete the registration process.

** Note: for more information on how to create an account with us, click here.

Step 2 – Get Verified for Purchase

1. To purchase bitcoin (BTC), you first need to become verified.

2. It’s necessary to enter your personal information and upload your ID or passport, plus various other documents depending on which level of verification you wish to reach.

Our verification team works 6:00-23:00 UTC. If everything looks ok, you should be verified in about fifteen minutes during working hours, or as soon as we’re back at our desks. If we have a question about your documents or need more information, we’ll let you know. Once your account is verified, you’re ready to buy Bitcoin!

**Note: for further help with account verification, please click here.

Step 3 – Place your first order

1. Once signed in and verified, click the “Buy” button and select “Bitcoin”.

2. Next, choose the amount you would like to buy. You can select a package, or enter the fiat amount or crypto quantity you’d like to buy of up to roughly $5,000 (as of the time of writing) for card purchases or $15,000 for wire transfer purchases.

3. Supply your Bitcoin wallet address. If you’re unsure what this is, please check out this article. The address you enter is where we’ll send the coins which you buy. You can re-use this address for subsequent purchases or get a new one from your wallet, at your discretion.

4. Then, select the “Go to Payment” button.

Step 4 – Complete your Checkout

1. Select your payment method. Users worldwide can choose to buy bitcoin with a credit card, debit card, bank transfer and now Apple Pay.

2. Enter your payment details and click the “Buy” button.

Note: For card purchases, kindly note that only cards issued by VISA or MasterCard are accepted. As for wire transfers, they usually take 1-2 business days to post. This means that when paying via wire transfer,  you will get the rate at the time your money arrives at our account. This means that during times of high price volatility, you may get a rather different Bitcoin amount (either more or less) than expected.

Once payment has been made, our BTC transaction to your wallet’s address then needs to be confirmed by the Bitcoin network. In approximately 10 minutes, a Bitcoin payment will be broadcast from Coinmama’s wallet to the Bitcoin address you supplied in Step 3, point 3.

Note that during times of especially high traffic, your transaction may take longer than normal to appear as confirmed within your wallet. Ordinarily, the transaction will be confirmed within 10 minutes. For large amounts, this might take a little longer (up to an hour).

Conclusion

Exciting times lay ahead for Bitcoin in the UK. While crypto-scepticism still plagues certain official, the vast level of investment and research being conducted bodes well for the future. We hope this guide has proven informative and made it easier for you to buy bitcoin in the UK, should you so wish.