Britain’s financial regulator has said Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, cannot conduct any regulated activity and issued a warning to consumers about the platform, which is coming under growing scrutiny globally.
In a notice dated June 25, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Binance Markets Ltd, Binance’s only regulated UK entity, “must not, without the prior written consent of the FCA, carry out any regulated activities … with immediate effect”.
It also issued a warning to consumers about Binance Markets and the wider Binance group.
Binance said in a statement Binance Markets, which it acquired in 2020, was not yet using its regulatory permissions, and that the FCA’s move would not affect services offered on its website – Binance.com.
“We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators and we take our compliance obligations very seriously. We are actively keeping abreast of changing policies, rules and laws in this new space,” a spokesperson said.
Binance announced in June last year that it had bought an FCA-regulated entity and would use it to offer cryptocurrency trading services using pounds and euros.
The move extends a regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency sector amid concerns about its potential involvement in money laundering and fraud.
Bitcoin gained on Monday, trading 5.1 percent higher at $35,309 as of 7:19am in Hong Kong.
Crypto bulls often interpret tough regulatory action as a sign that the market is maturing, and say the potential for a more robust safety net may entice more investors to enter the space.
Stepping up oversight
While trading of cryptocurrencies is not directly regulated in Britain, offering services such as trading in cryptocurrency derivatives does require authorisation.
The FCA has told Binance that by June 30 it must display a notice stating “BINANCE MARKETS LIMITED IS NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERTAKE ANY REGULATED ACTIVITY IN THE UK” on its website and social media channels.
It must also secure and preserve all records relating to UK consumers and inform the FCA this has been done by July 2.
The regulator did not explain why it had taken these measures.
British citizens will still be able to access Binance’s services in other jurisdictions.
The FCA is stepping up its oversight of cryptocurrency trading, which has soared in popularity in Britain along with other countries around the globe.
Since January, the FCA has required all firms offering cryptocurrency-related services to register and show they comply with anti-money laundering rules. However, earlier this month it said just five firms had registered, and that the majority were not yet compliant.
Japan’s regulator said on June 25 that Binance was operating in the country illegally, a notice posted on Japan’s Financial Services Agency website showed.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that officials from the US Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service which probe money laundering and tax offences had sought information from individuals with insight into Binance’s business.
In April, Germany’s financial regulator BaFin said the exchange risked being fined for offering digital tokens without an investor prospectus.