United Kingdom’s Post Office has signed a deal with a relatively unknown exchange called Swarm Markets.
As part of the agreement, the Post Office will begin issuing and selling crypto ‘vouchers’ across its branches nationwide. These vouchers can later be redeemed for either Bitcoin or Ethereum on the Swarm Markets exchange.
As part of this deal, customers must redeem their vouchers by completing KYC using a proprietary identity verification application developed by the Post Office called ‘EasyID’.
According to an official Post Office spokesperson, “Access to products and services are increasingly moving online and we’ve responded to this shift by launching our free-to-use app, Post Office EasyID, allowing people to build their own secure digital identity on their smartphone and enabling them to easily control and prove who they are to whichever business they want to interact with.”
The Post Office is a private entity in the United Kingdom, however, it is owned by the government. It is best known for its ties to the Royal Mail, the country’s postal service (the Royal Mail), and as such, it is best known for its 11,638 nationwide branches which act as an outlet for a wide range of services and products: from post to banking and insurance.
Swarm Markets claims to be “the world’s first licensed* high-liquidity DeFi protocol”, however, its token sits relatively under-the-radar at present claiming the #1504 spot on CoinMarketCap’s rankings (by overall Market Capitalization).
Good or bad news for the UK?
Though unexpected, this new addition to the Post Office’s portfolio could mark a step in the right direction of catalyzing cryptocurrency adoption rates in the UK which, at present, is lagging behind that of other English-speaking nations.
A recent study by independent research group Finder revealed that one in three Australians own cryptocurrency whilst a Statista study indicates that the highest adopting country worldwide is Nigeria, where 31.9% of all citizens surveyed claimed to own cryptocurrency. The United Kingdom sits much lower on this list with only 4.7% of respondents claiming to own crypto.
On the other hand, the Telegraph reports that critics have “accused” the government-owned Post Office of “giving legitimacy to high-risk investments after teaming up with a cryptocurrency trading business.”. The article cites critics such as former chairman of the Treasury select committee, Baroness Nicky Morgan, who stated that “It does seem a very odd thing for the Post Office to get involved with.”
Since March 2020, the United Kingdom government has been considering the concept of introducing its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) having set up a dedicated ‘task force’ which has, thus far, acted as an internal ‘think tank’ for the research and definition of what such a CBDC may look like in the future.
Meanwhile, El Salvador, a country with a relatively low GDP compared to the United Kingdom recently made a bold move towards the adoption of its own. By introducing Bitcoin as a nationally recognized form of tender.