A partnership between Poundtoken and BitcoinPoint will make the country’s first 100%-backed British pound stablecoin, GBPT, accessible to retail consumers via a network of 18,000 ATMs across the United Kingdom. The move marks another step toward the U.K. becoming a “crypto hub” and is in line with the government’s push to use stablecoins for wholesale settlements.
BitcoinPoint is a Lightning Network-enabled Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency exchange, licensed and registered in the United Kingdom. Poundtoken is the sole issuer of GBPT, which it states is fully backed in pounds at all times, with monthly attestations provided by auditor KPMG.
Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ether (ETH) can already be swapped for cash at ATMs across the United Kingdom. However, listing GBPT on BitcoinPoint means that users can now access retail and wholesale payments using the pound stablecoin and use a currency familiar to Brits as an on-ramp into crypto.
Benoit Marzouk, CEO of BitcoinPoint, told Cointelegraph that the move could democratize “access to crypto for non-tech savvy people in the United Kingdom.” He explained that:
“It’s also fully in line with the government’s consideration to integrate stablecoins with the U.K. economy.”
The U.K. is the second-largest economy in Europe. Its government is recruiting for senior roles in central bank digital currencies as well as a digital pound rollout, while Prime Minister Rish Sunak has been vocal in his support for “digital settlement assets,” the country’s new, preferred terminology for crypto.
Crosbie explained to Cointelegraph that Poundtoken came about as a result of the “rise in USD stablecoins” such as Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC) and the fact that there is no U.K.-based alternative.
“The purpose of GBPT is really to bring the blockchain and crypto to the U.K. and make it easier for adoption in the U.K. […] It’s time the U.K. started to realize its potential as a world leader in crypto.”
The partnership works to normalize the use of stablecoins to conduct everyday financial practices. Marzouk explained, “We are Bitcoiners at BitcoinPoint, and we really see value in stablecoin projects — it really makes sense.”
Stablecoin use has proliferated around the world, from inflation-ridden Argentina to European financial hub Switzerland. However, the scars of the Terra algorithmic stablecoin crash are still fresh for the crypto industry, forcing some jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong, to outlaw their use entirely.
Scoring systems from traditional finance risk assessors such as Moody’s may give credibility to the burgeoning stablecoin ecosystem, while efforts from Bitcoin-advocate groups such as the Bitcoin Policy Institute may pave the way toward a crypto- and stablecoin-based future.
Related: United Kingdom banks are a threat to crypto, and that’s bad news for everyone
Marzouk told Cointelegraph that in the U.K., cashing out via an ATM off-ramp using BitcoinPoint remains low — less than 5% — and it is unlikely that there will be a dramatic uptick in numbers of users taking advantage of GBPT to hold physical cash. However, he is “quite confident about the on-ramp [into crypto].”
“We see Bitcoiners opting out from the banking system and becoming Bitcoin only. You could also have people who don’t want to have a bank account and could therefore use GBPT. So, when they need cash, they can off-ramp into GBPT to get cash.”
The move could allow more and more crypto enthusiasts to participate without a bank. The integration is now live across the United Kingdom’s 18,000 ATMs.