Risk & Compliance

U.K. Cracks Down on Crypto Exchange Binance

The U.K.'s financial watchdog “is sending a strong signal that it is worried about the dangers of investing in cryptocurrencies."
Matthew HellerJune 28, 2021
U.K. Cracks Down on Crypto Exchange Binance

In the latest example of the regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry, the U.K.’s financial watchdog has barred Binance from offering certain services in the country.

The Financial Conduct Authority said in a news release that a U.K. affiliate of Binance “is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the U.K.” and “No other entity in the Binance Group holds any form of U.K. authorization, registration or license to conduct regulated activity in the U.K.”

The FCA does not directly regulate cryptocurrencies but it does have authority over crypto asset derivatives such as futures contracts, contracts for difference, and options.

“Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in crypto asset or crypto-asset-related products,” the regulator warned investors in its statement.

Binance established London-based Binance Markets Limited a year ago as part of a plan to launch a U.K.-focused exchange, Binance UK. The FCA’s intervention “is a sign of how regulators are cracking down on the cryptocurrency industry over concerns relating to its potential role in illicit activities such as money laundering and fraud, and over often weak consumer protection,” the Financial Times reported.

A Binance spokesperson said Binance Markets Limited does not offer any products or services on the Binance.com website and the FCA’s notice “has no direct impact on the services provided on Binance.com. Our relationship with our users has not changed.”

Binance has also been facing regulatory scrutiny in other countries, with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission reportedly investigating whether the exchange, which is not registered with the agency, has allowed U.S. residents to buy and sell crypto-asset derivatives.

Germany’s financial watchdog warned investors in April that Binance had probably violated securities rules over its launch of trading in stock tokens. Binance, one of the most important operators in the fast-emerging crypto market, recorded trading volumes equivalent to $1.5 trillion last month, according to data from TheBlockCrypto.

“The FCA is sending a strong signal that it is worried about the dangers of investing in cryptocurrencies in general,” BBC News said.