Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The Financial Conduct Authority or ‘FCA’ – formed in 2013 – is the United Kingdom’s financial regulatory authority overseeing U.K. financial markets and “58,000 businesses which employ 2.2 million people and contribute around £65.6 billion in annual tax revenue to the economy in the United Kingdom”.

An independent agency, the FCA has the power to regulate the marketing of financial products and services, investigate entities/individuals, ban products and freeze assets.

As the United Kingdom’s capital city of London is a historic financial hub, the UK is more prone to financial crime than other jurisdictions. However, the FCA is not the UK’s Financial Intelligence Unit, as that position is held by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

By being a global financial hub the UK additionally attracts a number of FinTech startups and has built a thriving ecosystem. Within the FinTech sector, crypto and blockchain businesses have featured prominently. The FCA has in recent years put out more clear regulatory guidelines towards cryptocurrency and blockchain-based assets. In 2020 the FCA ordered that all crypto derivative offerings must be stopped.

The FCA cited 5 reasons for the ban; (1) the inherent nature of the underlying assets, which means they have no reliable basis for valuation, (2) prevalence of market abuse and financial crime in the secondary market (eg cyber theft), (3), extreme volatility in cryptoasset price movements, (4) inadequate understanding of cryptoassets by retail consumers and (5) lack of legitimate investment need for retail consumers to invest in these products.

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic backlog of registering a crypto business in the country a Temporary Registration Regime has been in place.

To visit the FCA’s website click here.

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