UK Regulators Continue Their Crypto ATM Crackdown
- The new UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said he has plans to turn the UK into a crypto hub.
- Bitcoin ATMs gained popularity in 2021 but have seen a sharp decline in demand.
- The United States has over 30,000 crypto ATMs.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom announced that it had investigated multiple locations in East London suspected of housing illegal Bitcoin automated teller machines (ATMs) as part of its ongoing campaign to eradicate these devices.
In a statement, the FCA said it has been working with the Metropolitan Police to investigate a number of locations in the East London area and will continue to search for and disrupt unregistered crypto ATM operations in the UK. The FCA and West Yorkshire Police’s Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit carried out similar operations in Leeds earlier this year as part of their ongoing campaign against unlicensed ATM operators.
Reacting to the raid, Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, noted that “this operation, alongside last month’s action in Leeds, sends a clear message that we will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto businesses in the UK.”
Although the FCA does not regulate the crypto industry, it demands that all crypto companies register and demonstrate that they have strong anti-money laundering and counterterrorism funding procedures. Interestingly, the UK does not have any crypto ATMs registered with the FCA. This means that ATMs in the UK are illegal.
The use of Bitcoin ATMs gained widespread fame in 2021, coinciding with the crypto boom that saw the prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and some altcoins hit new heights. The period also saw about 2,000 ATMs installed monthly. However, Bitcoin ATMs seem to have faded out of trend since then.
Statistics show that the European region has about 1,469 functional Bitcoin ATMs. However, those figures pale in comparison to the 32,164 Bitcoin ATMs in the United States alone.