The announcement came in a package of measures unveiled by finance minister
Unlike conventional money, virtual currencies are not backed by a central bank or government, but have become increasingly used as a means of online exchange with some bricks-and-mortar vendors also accepting them as payment for goods and services.
"The government will look at the potential virtual and digital currencies have for achieving positive change and for encouraging innovation in our world leading financial sector, as well as the potential risks," said a
The government said it would begin researching how such currencies could, or should, be regulated in
European Banking advice
Bitcoin, the best known of the 200 or so computer-generated currencies, has come under particular scrutiny since
Last month the
Osborne also said the government was enlisting the help of industry and academic experts to look at the increasingly key role of technology in finance and its likely policy implications over the next decade.
Financial services makes up around 8 percent of the British economy, and Osborne said it was vital to harness new technology to ensure
This would funnel demand for cash toward new sources of funding like peer-to-peer lenders, which allow individuals to lend money directly to small companies or other individuals, cutting out the banks and lowering the cost for businesses.
"It's good that more SMEs are making use of alternative finance but the big banks still dominate and small businesses often give up if they're turned down for finance by their bank," said business secretary
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