The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the financial regulator of the United Kingdom, has conducted a series of raids on unregistered crypto ATMs across the country, according to a statement released on Friday. The FCA inspected sites in Exeter, Nottingham, and Sheffield alongside the regional police, as part of its ongoing crackdown on unlawful crypto ATMs, which it considers a potential accessory to money laundering.
“Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal,” said Therese Chambers, the FCA’s Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight. “We will act to stop illegal activity.” The regulator noted that none of the devices for converting fiat currency into cryptocurrency are logged with the FCA as required by law. The FCA did not specify what further action it might take after reviewing the evidence gained from the inspections.
This recent action follows enforcement actions taken in Leeds and East London in March. The FCA’s move against unregistered crypto ATMs is part of a wider trend of regulatory scrutiny of the crypto industry globally. The number of crypto ATMs around the world has seen a significant reduction this year, as noted by Todayq News. In the first two months of 2023, the net cryptocurrency ATMs installed globally reduced by 412 machines.
The total count of crypto ATMs had maintained a steady upward trajectory since 2014, catering to millions of users worldwide for seamless crypto-fiat conversions. However, between December 2020 and January 2022, more than 1,000 crypto and Bitcoin ATMs were installed every month. The bear market in 2022 had an immediate effect on its growth. In September 2022, the total number of crypto ATMs saw a net decline for the first time in history.
United States and Canada are said to possess the maximum number of ATMs within their territory, with the highest number located in financial hubs like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Canada occupied the second spot with 2,704 ATMs. However, a major share, 85% of the total count, resides in the United States of America.
The decline in the number of crypto ATMs is a direct impact of the bear market that persisted throughout the majority of 2022. Along with it, the collapses of big-shot crypto firms worsened it. The aforementioned reasons have likely fueled the declining trend among ATMs. Crypto ATMs are an integral part of crypto adoption, and this decline in numbers may signify a potential slowdown in the growth of the industry.
The FCA’s actions against unregistered crypto ATMs reflect the UK’s regulatory approach towards the crypto industry. The regulator has been stepping up its efforts to combat financial crimes related to cryptocurrencies, such as money laundering and terrorism financing. The FCA has made it clear that it will not tolerate any illegal activity related to crypto ATMs and will take necessary action to stop it.