Britain’s financial markets regulator has issued an order to shut down Bitomat’s operations in the kingdom. The reason for the alleged failure to comply with AML regulations.
Britons without access to Bitomat?
On March 11, the UK’s financial regulator issued a statement ordering operators of devices for exchanging cash for cryptocurrencies (and vice versa) to shut down operations immediately, or undergo other undisclosed actions.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) decision took users of crypto markets by surprise. One of the factors prompting it is the alleged lack of regulatory structure, another is the high volatility of subordinate assets, and the last and perhaps most important is the lack of compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
As a release from FCA representatives reads:
“We are concerned about cryptocurrency ATMs operating in the UK and will therefore be contacting operators instructing them to have these machines turned off or face further action.”
There are currently 81 Bitomats operating in the UK, managed by 8 independent companies. The basis for such a decision of the regulator finds its origins on November 15 last year, when Gidiplus Limited received a notice from the FCA, which included the rejection of an application to establish the company as a “crypto asset exchange provider”. The company, wishing to compete in the Bitomat area, failed to meet the conditions for registration of such devices. Gidiplus Limited’s appeal had no effect. It was countered by the FCA with information about the lack of evidence of how Gidiplus intends to operate in a way that complies with local regulations.
The plight of crypto companies in the UK
It is not just Bitomat providers that have regulatory problems in the UK. High-profile at one time was the case of Binance, which also failed to meet basic FCA requirements. As of August 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority has granted permission for 33 cryptocurrency companies to register. They include Gemini Europe Ltd, Kraken’s holding company Payward Ltd, Galaxy Digital UK Limited, and eToro UK Ltd, among others.
However, there are many companies with so-called provisional registration status. Among the 22 entities whose license expires at the end of March 2022 are Blockchain Access UK Limited (blockchain.com), Copper Technologies (UK) Limited, Revolut Ltd and Wirex Ltd. Decisions on their applications are still pending.
So this is not the first time that the FCA has looked at the crypto market with an unfavorable, or at least skeptical, eye. Taking into account that the UK also has some of the most restrictive tax laws, it can be assumed that the development of the sector on its territory is far from the potential that the kingdom has at its disposal.