The UK has Banned Bitcoin ATMs

Blog / The UK has Banned Bitcoin ATMs

According to the letter made public by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency ATMs that enable individuals to purchase and trade crypto were banned on March 10, 2022, in the UKA thorough awareness of the important developments regarding cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin ATMs, and their adherence to Money Laundering Regulations (MLR) is essential for navigating the UK's cryptocurrency market. The regulatory spotlight is growing as officials voice concerns about unlicensed Bitcoin ATMs that are functioning in the United Kingdom.  A significant evaluation found that 110 unregistered cryptocurrency businesses were no longer in business by 2022.

FCA has stepped up attempts to combat the illegal operation of cryptocurrency ATMs around the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2023. In cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, the FCA conducted visits and inspections at 34 suspected locations housing these machines. As a result, 26 illegally running crypto ATMs were successfully shut down nationally. The FCA issued a strong warning, stressing that using these ATMs exposes consumers to possible illegal activity and offers no recourse in the event of an accident. To maintain a safe financial environment, the FCA promises to keep issuing public advisories and to take strong enforcement measures against unlicensed cryptocurrency ATM operators.

Why Did the FCA Ban Bitcoin ATMs?

Bitcoin ATMs allow money holders to change their cash into Bitcoin or vice versa independently, purchase Bitcoin, and the other cryptocurrency exchanges. Normally, bitcoin transactions are being conducted with a private key; the development of these machines has sparked concerns that they may aid in facilitating digital currency laundering.

Essentially, they provide an exit point from the incredibly traceable Bitcoin blockchain, which has previously assisted in detecting illegal bitcoin transactions. According to Coin ATM Radar, there are now just 80 Bitcoin ATMs operational in the United Kingdom, compared to over 32,000 in the United States. Canada, the birthplace of the Bitcoin ATM, is a distant second with around 2300 ATMs.

Most machines in the UK are found in supermarkets and convenience stores, for which the FCA has also given notice. The government claims that it has not issued a license to any of the Bitcoin ATM operators and is concerned that they do not conduct proper background checks, which are sometimes required for online bitcoin transactions.

Companies detected unlawfully using these machines may face penalties and criminal charges, as well as being barred from engaging in other sorts of financial industries.

Detailed guidance to learn AML comppliance in the UK

The Global Cryptocurrency Crackdown

From sanctions to penalties, international governments are rushing to bring crypto transactions, bitcoin networks, and purchasing bitcoins via ATMs under regulatory control. Some are concerned that Russia would use cryptocurrency to circumvent Western trade restrictions after being cut off from SWIFT.

Nonetheless, it is not an excellent solution for crooks. Though crypto transactions are inherently pseudonymous, a government may potentially flag them higher than cash so long as they can connect a specific blockchain address to someone's ID.

Data demonstrates this sad reality: Chainalysis discovers that the crime percentage of crypto transactions is shrinking with time. Moreover, a comparable organization recently established a tool that assists in tracking the cash of sanctioned individuals, making cryptocurrency even less private.

Bitcoin ATMs are 'Unregistered' with the FCA

According to the watchdog, these cryptocurrency ATMs in the UK must be registered with the FCA and 'comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations.' According to the regulator, these machines have insufficient background checks, especially for minor deposits. This has raised fears that they may be used for money laundering. So far, the FCA has been harsh on cryptos, routinely warning customers that "crypto-assets are unregulated and high-risk." Gidiplus, a Bitcoin ATM operator, recently lost a legal case in an effort to reverse the judgement after FCA denied a license to operate.

How Can Sanction Scanner Help?

Sanction Scanner is an essential tool when managing the complex world of cryptocurrency regulatory compliance. Sanction Scanner, a prominent provider of AI-powered AML solutions, perfectly aligns with the FCA's purpose as it strengthens the financial sector against criminal activity. Sanction Scanner uses modern technology to enable companies to perform thorough background checks and comply with money laundering regulations. Sanction Scanner is a dependable partner in a world struggling with crypto sanctions, offering all-inclusive AML solutions to reduce risks and promote a safe financial environment. For more information, contact us or request a demo today.

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