LONDON, UK — Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, has been banned from operating in the United Kingdom by the country's markets regulator, the latest sign of a global crackdown on the crypto market.
The Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom said on Saturday that Binance Markets Limited, the company's U.K. division, "is not authorised to undertake any regulated activity in the United Kingdom."
From June 30, the business, which currently offers crypto trading to Brits via its website, must include a notice in a prominent location on its website and apps that reads:
IN THE UK, BINANCE MARKETS LIMITED IS NOT PERMITTED TO ENGAGE IN ANY REGULATED ACTIVITY. Binance Markets Limited is currently not permitted to engage in any regulated activity without the FCA's prior written authorization due to the FCA's enforcement of requirements. (No other entity in the Binance Group is authorised, registered, or licenced to perform regulated activity in the United Kingdom.)
Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, was planning to create its own digital asset exchange in the United Kingdom. It was, however, one of numerous crypto firms that withdrew their applications to register with the FCA due to non-compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.
"Binance Markets Limited withdrew its 5MLD application on 17 May 2021 following significant interaction by the FCA," a spokesperson for the FCA told CNBC. “The action against Binance Markets Limited that was carried out today was long planned.”
The FCA representative underlined that the suspension was just temporary. Despite the fact that Binance Markets Limited is prohibited from providing regulated services in the United Kingdom, non-registered businesses can nonetheless communicate with British customers. As a result, Binance may still be able to offer cryptocurrency trading to British citizens via its website.
A Binance spokesperson told CNBC: “The FCA's notice in the United Kingdom has no bearing on Binance.com's services. We haven't changed the way we interact with our customers.”
“In engaging with regulators, we take a collaborative approach, and we take our compliance obligations extremely seriously,” the representative stated. “In this new sector, we are actively keeping informed of evolving policies, norms, and laws.”
“Binance is not permitted to engage in regulated operations in the United Kingdom, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA),” Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said via email. “While providing access to cryptocurrencies is not a regulated activity in and of itself, issuing derivatives is, and this is likely the activity that the FCA is targeting.”
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) isn't the only government entity pushing down on the cryptocurrency industry.
Last week, Japan's Financial Services Agency issued a warning that Binance was operating without its licence in the country.
Meanwhile, China has stepped up its attempts to combat cryptocurrency speculation, ordering digital currency miners to suspend operations in a number of regions and advising banks and payment companies not to offer crypto-related services.
The embryonic crypto sector has been pushed down by increased regulatory scrutiny. Bitcoin had a strong start to the year, rising to about $65,000 in April, an all-time high. However, it has nearly half in value since then, selling at $34,783 as of Monday morning.
“This isn't a watershed moment in regulation that will kill the crypto boom, but it is part of a growing trend of regulatory intervention in crypto markets,” Khalaf added, referring to the FCA's Binance limits.
“The idea that policymakers will just allow a decentralised shadow payments system to evolve without any regulatory control is ludicrous, and as cryptoasset use grows, we can anticipate more stringent regulation to follow.”