Up to 50 companies dealing in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin may be forced to close after failing to meet the UK’s anti-money laundering rules.
The Financial Conduct Authority, the City regulator, announced on Thursday that an “unprecedented number” of companies had withdrawn applications from a temporary permit scheme that allowed firms to continue trading until the regulator could green-light or formally reject their operations.
A “significantly high number” of those firms had been warned that they were falling short of anti-money laundering standards intended to stop criminals and terrorist groups from disguising the source of their money, usually through a complex web of financial channels.
Firms that pull out of the permit process are required to stop trading immediately, until they can meet the watchdog’s standards and are admitted to the formal list of registered businesses.
A number of regulators across the globe have been cracking down on crypto assets, which have been linked to money laundering and black market dealings. Last month, Chinese regulators banned banks and payment firms from offering clients any services involving cryptocurrencies, and warned of the risks linked to trading crypto assets.