The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is taking measures to curb the threat of money laundering posed by illegal cryptocurrency ATMs in the country. The regulator recently collaborated with local police to conduct inspections of sites in Exeter, Sheffield, and Nottingham.
While crypto ATMs are legal, they must be registered with the FCA before they can operate. However, the FCA found that none of the crypto ATM operators were registered, making their operations illegal in the country. The FCA Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, Therese Chambers, stated that “Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal. We will act to stop illegal activity.”
The Economic Crime Unit Manager at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Peter Highway, emphasized the danger of the illegal operations of crypto ATMs. He explained that criminals could use these ATMs to launder illegally obtained cash, making the FCA’s crackdown necessary.
The joint efforts between the FCA and regional police have helped raise awareness among the public of illegally operated crypto ATMs in the UK, which is especially important because crypto products are high risk and not currently regulated.
The FCA is currently reviewing evidence gathered from the inspections but has not provided any information on its next line of action. Despite their lack of authorization to operate in the country, Coin ATM Radar reports that there are currently 17 crypto ATMs in the UK, located in Birmingham, London, and Manchester.
However, this represents a significant decline from the numbers in March 2022, when there were around 81 Bitcoin ATMs/Tellers in various locations across the country. The FCA’s enforcement actions against illegal crypto ATM operators have steadily reduced their numbers.
In conclusion, the FCA’s crackdown on illegal crypto ATMs in the UK aims to prevent money laundering and raise public awareness of the risks associated with unregulated crypto products. The regulator’s actions have resulted in a significant decline in the number of unregistered crypto ATMs in the country.