Former health secretary Matt Hancock was paid £10,000 for appearing at a financial technology conference at which he discussed how the government should support cryptocurrencies.
Mr Hancock, who was stripped of the Tory whip for taking part in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, has been a vocal advocate of “fintech” in the UK, particularly digital currencies that use secure communications for transactions.
But the cryptocurrency sector is in crisis. Billions of dollars in value have been wiped from the market as FTX collapsed and Bitcoin – the world’s third biggest exchange by trading volume – plummeted.
There have been widespread calls for more regulation in the cryptocurrency market after the losses.
Mr Hancock’s conference fee, which he declared in his register of interests, is on top of the fee reportedly of £400,000 he received for appearing on the reality-television show based in an Australian jungle camp.
In June Mr Hancock said his confidence in crypto had not been shaken by the major market downturn that wiped billions in value from the sector’s November 2021 peak.
“The underlying technology is so powerful,” he told UKTN. “Just because the Dotcom bubble crashed in 2001, we didn’t discredit the internet as a technology.”
He told a City AM podcast it was his mission to make the public love digital assets.
Mr Hancock has given speeches to at least two cryptocurrency events in recent months, and is also due to deliver a keynote address at the Crypto AM Summit and Awards next week.
An estimated two million people in the UK own cryptocurrencies.
In January Rishi Sunak as chancellor announced the introduction of tougher regulations on how cryptocurrencies are promoted.
“Crypto assets can provide exciting new opportunities, offering people new ways to transact and invest, but it’s important that consumers are not being sold products with misleading claims,” he said.
Boris Johnson is due to address a cryptocurrency conference in Singapore next month as part of his new public-speaking career.
The former prime minister will be a keynote speaker at the International Symposium on Blockchain Advancements.