The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken action against unregistered crypto ATMs in the country, citing their potential for money laundering. The regulator conducted inspections in Exeter, Sheffield, and Nottingham in collaboration with local police. While crypto ATMs are legal in the UK, they must be registered with the FCA before operating. However, none of the operators were registered, making their operations illegal.
FCA Vows to Stop Illegal Activity
The Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, Therese Chambers, stated that crypto ATMs operating without registration are illegal and the regulator will take steps to stop such activity. The joint efforts with the police have also helped to raise awareness among the public about illegally operated crypto ATMs in the UK. Crypto products are high-risk and currently unregulated, highlighting the importance of cracking down on unregistered operators.
Crypto ATMs Used for Money Laundering
The Economic Crime Unit Manager at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Peter Highway, emphasized the risk of illegal crypto ATMs being used for money laundering. Criminals could potentially use these machines to launder illegally obtained cash, further highlighting the need for regulatory oversight. The FCA is reviewing evidence gathered from the inspections, but has not provided further details on its next steps.
Despite lacking authorization to operate in the UK, Coin ATM Radar reports that there are currently 17 crypto ATMs in the country, located in Birmingham, London, and Manchester. However, this marks a significant decline from the 81 Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs/Tellers that were present in the UK as of March 2022. The decline is attributed to the FCA’s enforcement actions against illegal crypto ATM operators.