UK orders shutdown of 'illegal' Bitcoin cashpoints

Financial watchdog has written to providers of Britain's 81 cryptocurrency ATMs

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority considers Bitcoin ATMs to be potential portals for money laundering. Bloomberg

All 81 operational Bitcoin cashpoints in the UK must shut down after being declared illegal by the country's financial regulator.

The Financial Conduct Authority has written to the providers with the directive, and raised the prospect of enforcement if it is not obeyed.

Most of Britain's cryptocurrency ATMs are found in convenience shops and supermarkets, and they too have been written to by the FCA.

The machines allow users to to exchange cash for Bitcoin but have scant security checks, especially for smaller amounts, and none of their providers are licensed.

This has led to concerns they could be used for money laundering, prompting the FCA to act.

“We have warned operators of crypto ATMs in the UK to shut their machines down or face enforcement action,” the regulator said.

“Crypto ATMs offering crypto-asset exchange services in the UK must be registered with us and comply with UK money laundering regulations.

“None of the crypto-asset firms registered with us have been approved to offer crypto ATM services, meaning that any of them operating in the UK are doing so illegally and consumers should not be using them.

We regularly warn consumers that crypto-assets are unregulated and high-risk
UK's Financial Conduct Authority

“We are concerned about crypto ATM machines operating in the UK and will therefore be contacting the operators instructing that the machines be shut down or face further action.”

The regulator's stance is consonant with its well established stringent regulatory approach to crypto.

The robustness of its regulation has meant a mere 33 companies are listed on the UK's crypto-asset register, with a further 22 on a time-limited list permitting trading until the end of March.

Th FCA has shut down 110 operators to date, one of which, Gidiplus, failed in an attempt to overturn the ban in court.

“We regularly warn consumers that crypto-assets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them,” said the FCA.

Updated: March 11, 2022, 10:44 AM