The potential introduction of an official version of bitcoin will have to wait for at least four years, the Bank of England has said.

Officials said on Tuesday that it would launch a consultation on the introduction of a so-called central bank digital currency (CBDC) next year.

The Bank of England will launch a consultation next year on a potential official version of bitcoin (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But it would take until at least 2025 for such a currency to be launched in the UK, the Treasury and Bank of England said.

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“The earliest date for launch of a UK CBDC would be in the second half of the decade,” they said.

And this will only happen if several other hurdles are cleared, including the consultation and a “research and exploration phase”.

It is a “major national infrastructure project”, officials said in a statement, but would be designed to exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.

The Bank’s deputy governor for financial stability, Jon Cunliffe, said: “The plan to publish a consultation next year on CBDC is a crucial step in our policy development, especially as we further our thinking on the pressing issues at hand.

“What it will do is provide a platform for interested parties and relevant groups to engage with the key questions on the merits of CBDC, and whether the public sector should advance to a development phase.”

Economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: “This consultation will begin an open discussion on the role a UK central bank digital currency might play in the UK.

“I’d encourage everyone to contribute to the discussion so we can explore the opportunities this could bring, as well as understanding any risks it may pose.”