FCA eyes extending money laundering obligations for digital currency firms

New proposals from the U.K.’s financial regulator could see more firms required to report on managing the risks of financial crimes, in a move likely to impact digital currency firms based in the country.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which oversees financial regulation in the U.K., recently published a consultation paper, specifying an extension to reporting obligations that would include firms such as digital currency exchanges and Bitcoin wallet services.

The proposals would require these firms to submit detailed information annually about the systems and controls they have in operation to detect and prevent financial crimes, including money laundering.

At the moment, only 2,500 of the 23,000 firms regulated by the FCA are subject to these requirements. Under the new proposals, this would rise considerably, bringing in companies including payment providers, digital money services, trading facilities and all businesses regulated by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).

According to the FCA, the additional information from companies required to submit their policies would allow the regulator to be more “data led” in its response to financial crimes such as money laundering and terrorism financing, giving the regulator a greater understanding of the risks posed by operators in the financial services sectors.

The paper is now open for consultation, with feedback invited from stakeholders until November 23, 2020. At this stage, the regulator will decide whether and how to move forward with the proposals in bringing them into law.

The move follows on from the U.K. government’s stated objective in June, where the executive said it was looking to increase the scrutiny and compliance obligations of digital currency businesses.

The new role of supervising the sector was given to the FCA, which currently oversees other institutions such as banks, insurance companies and all mortgage lenders.

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