Digital currency businesses looking to operate in the United Kingdom are reportedly finding the licensing terms set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to be too challenging, amid the latest wave of withdrawn applications.
Some 13 prospective licensees have reportedly withdrawn their applications to the regulator, taking the total number to do so to 64. The figures show an increase of 25% in withdrawn applications for June alone, with others thought to be considering similar moves.
The FCA assumed its role in overseeing the digital currency sector back in January 2020, with a particular focus on compliance with Anti-Money Laundering procedures. This prompted the regulator to bring in the licensing scheme, giving businesses an initial period of one year to comply with the requirements.
However, after being inundated with applications, the resultant backlog prompted the regulator to set up a temporary registration system to allow time for processing.
Firms that withdraw from the licensing process are obliged to cease trading, on pain of fines and legal enforcement by the regulator. However, it is expected that some firms will be able to continue to operate outside of the agency’s anti-money laundering remit.
The news comes in a climate of tightening restrictions on digital currency businesses in the U.K. Most recently, the U.K. regulator took action against cryptocurrency exchange Binance, joining regulators in Ontario and Japan in doing so. Binance itself withdrew its application for U.K. licensing last month.
CEO of trading platform eToro, Yoni Assia, said the direction in the U.K. implies a growing intent to regulate the digital currency sector, warning of more stringent regulation to come in future.
It comes at a time of increasingly tightening restrictions on the digital currency sector worldwide, as governments establish their own regimes for regulating the industry.
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