FCA orders all bitcoin ATMs in the UK to shut down

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), United Kingdom’s central financial regulator, has issued a verdict on the presence of Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs within the island country.

In what has come as a surprise to many within the industry, the U.K. authority has issued a stern “shut down or face further action“ order to operators of Bitcoin ATMs, outlining their intentions to contact these companies to affirm the notice.

The watchdog cited a lack of regulatory structure, the high-risk potential of fluctuating assets and the importance of upholding the principles established within the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR) as the primary reasons for the enforcement.

The FCA has granted registration approval to 33 crypto companies since August 2020 under the MLR framework, the most notable of which being: Gemini Europe Ltd, Kraken‘s holding company Payward Ltd, Galaxy Digital UK Limited and, more recently added to the list on Jan. 14, eToro (UK) Ltd.

Additionally, the FCA has offered temporary registration status to 22 companies until March 31, 2022, at which time a decision will be determined on the validity of their application. These companies include the likes of Blockchain Access UK Limited (blockchain.com), Copper Technologies (UK) Limited, Revolut Ltd and Wirex Ltd, among others.

Analytical data conducted by Coin ATM Radar indicate that there are 81 Bitcoin ATMs within the U.K., operated by eight companies. The word presented by the FCA is that none of the 33 approved companies have filed appropriate documents or attained licensing status to operate Bitcoin ATM services within the jurisdiction, and therefore all other must be deemed as illegal enterprises.

Precedent for this ruling was established on Nov. 15, when Gidiplus Limited, the Bitcoin-centric crypto asset automated teller machine (CATM) service, was handed a decision notice by the FCA which refused their application as a “crypto asset exchange provider,” otherwise known as a Bitcoin ATM service.

According to the official sixteen-page report, Gidiplus did not meet the “conditions for registration” under the MLR law.

On Dec. 3, Gidiplus unsuccessfully appealed the decision to overturn the ruling in the Upper Tribunal chamber, with the FCA concluding their assessment with the notion that the appellants case provided a “lack of evidence as to how Gidiplus would undertake its business in a broadly compliant fashion pending determination of its appeal.”

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