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U.K. Financial Conduct Authority's cryptocurrency probe increases by 74% in 2019

Image Credit: FCA Twitter

Tue, 08 Oct 2019, 09:28 am UTC

The number of investigations conducted by the U.K.’s financial regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has seen a sharp increase in the last year.

As per a report by the Financial Times, the FCA has made 87 inquiries into crypto companies, as part of either initial scrutiny or full enforcement probe. The figure is 74% up from the same time in 2018 when the authority probed 50 crypto firms.

David Heffron, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, who provided the data told the news outlet that the increase “reflects the FCA’s increasingly hands-on and no-nonsense approach” to the crypto industry.

The FCA also said that scammers usually use social networking sites to promote their schemes, and victims are usually lured with fake celebrity endorsements and photos of luxury items. Currently, any crypto-related transactions are not regulated in the U.K.; thus, customers are not protected by the country’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

However, firms that sell regulated investments with underlying cryptocurrencies may need the regulatory body’s authorization.

It can be recalled that the FCA has published its final guidance in July, setting out the crypto asset activities that fall under its regulation. The authority said the new guidance will help companies determine if they need to obtain authorization for their operations and what they need to do to ensure compliance.

The new data follow after a report by Bitfury’s blockchain analytics platform Crystal revealed that the U.K. has the largest number of registered cryptocurrency exchanges, based on its study of direct bitcoin transactions between exchanges from Jan. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2019. U.K. had 43 registered crypto firms, whereas the U.S. only has 27.

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