Small But Mighty: U.K.’s Crypto Regulation Shuns Size for Compliance

In a recent development that emphasizes the growing importance of regulatory compliance in the crypto space, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reaffirmed that its decisions are not influenced by the size of crypto firms. Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the FCA, shared that the agency prioritizes regulatory adherence over company scale when granting approvals.

Since the FCA began its registration process two years ago, over 300 crypto companies have sought to secure their operational status in the U.K. However, a mere 42 have successfully navigated the process to achieve registration. This surprisingly low success rate highlights the rigorous standards set by the U.K. regulator.

Significantly, the FCA has shown no favoritism towards leading players in the industry. Binance, one of the largest global crypto exchanges, had its application turned down due to non-compliance with the FCA’s anti-money laundering requirements. Such decisions underscore the FCA’s commitment to maintaining a secure, transparent, and robust market that minimizes the risks of illicit activities.

Rathi highlighted the danger of incorporating market share or firm size as criteria during the registration process. Such a metric could introduce bias towards larger companies, potentially compromising the integrity of the regulatory landscape. Rathi instead urges regulators to make “robust decisions” based on regulatory compliance.

This push towards stringent oversight is set to intensify. The U.K. is expected to soon introduce an authorization regime requiring all crypto firms, including overseas ones targeting local customers, to secure an FCA license. This move follows the passage of the country’s new markets bill in June, which expanded the FCA’s powers to regulate the crypto industry.

These recent regulatory efforts in the U.K. come amidst growing pains in the crypto sector. Numerous crypto companies have had to shut down or relocate their operations out of the U.K. due to difficulties in securing FCA registration. Despite this, many continue to serve U.K. customers from abroad.

The low number of approved applications and the exodus of firms illustrate the challenges of regulating an industry that’s still finding its footing. Crypto firms have raised concerns about the FCA’s registration process, citing long wait times, insufficient feedback, and perceived unfair treatment. Despite these concerns, the FCA has held firm, attributing many registration failures to a lack of robust anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing systems.

As the U.K. continues to tighten its regulatory grip on the crypto industry, it’s clear that compliance, not size, will be the deciding factor for firms looking to operate in the country. These efforts could pave the way for a secure and compliant crypto landscape, where operational integrity outweighs market dominance.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irene
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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