Theresa May threatens UK Bitcoin crackdown as Brexit spectre haunts Davos

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has warned she’s looking “very seriously” at the situation surrounding Bitcoin and other leading digital currencies (such as Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin), prompting fears that Britain could follow South Korea in enacting some form of cryptocurrency crackdown.

Speaking to Bloomberg from Davos, where the World Economic Forum is currently taking place, May said that a UK clampdown on “increasingly developing” cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin couldn’t be ruled out, because of the way they’re used by “criminals.”

“In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously…precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals. I think it’s something that we do need to look at,” she told Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait during a TV interview.

Fears that the UK could be one of the next nations to strictly regulate cryptocurrency trading appear to have had an impact on Bitcoin’s price. The world’s largest digital currency opened the day (Thursday, January 25) trading at around  $11,590 (6am GMT), but has since slumped to $11,040 as of lunchtime (12:00pm GMT) – a plunge of more $500.

Related: Bitcoin price latest

It certainly isn’t the lowest Bitcoin has tumbled recently. It dipped as low as $10,772.15 on Monday, January 22, after South Korea confirmed it was planning to ban anonymous online cryptocurrency trading. However, those with an interest in the highly volatile digital currency may well fear there’s worse to come.

May added that she felt the UK had a “leading edge” in technology, in or out of the EU, and was “already an attractive place for businesses”. Although quite why such a ‘leading edge’ nation could look to impose Draconian restrictions on such an exciting technology remains a mystery to this editor, Brexit or otherwise.

Also at the elite summit, Irish PM (or Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar suggested the UK should enjoy a ‘bespoke’ withdrawal from Europe that resulted in a relationship similar to the one Norway currently enjoys with the EU.

Worried by the wild fluctuations in Bitcoin’s price? Check out our guide to the best Bitcoin alternatives to see what else is out there.

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