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UK FCA to take action against unregistered, illegal cryptocurrency ATMs

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The United Kingdom’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is coming for unregistered cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATMs).

The FCA and the cyber team at West Yorkshire Police have taken action against several sites in and around Leeds city suspected of hosting illegally operated crypto ATMs.

Announcing the news on Feb. 14, the FCA emphasized that no crypto ATM operators in the United Kingdom currency have FCA registration. The authority stated that all crypto exchange providers — including crypto ATM operators — must be registered with the FCA and comply with the U.K. money laundering regulations.

“Unregistered crypto ATMs operating in the U.K. are doing so illegally,” FCA’s executive director of enforcement Mark Steward said, adding that the regulator will continue to disrupt unregistered crypto businesses in the country. The exec also noted that crypto products are “currently unregulated and high-risk,” warning investors to be prepared to lose all their money with crypto.

According to police detective sergeant Lindsey Brants, local enforcement officers have issued several warning letters to crypto ATM operators, requesting cease and desist using the machines. “Any breach of regulations would result in an investigation under money-laundering regulations,” he added.

Related: UK’s FCA hints at why it’s only given 15% of crypto firms the regulatory nod

The FCA’s action against crypto ATMs would apparently affect a notable number of ATM operators, as there are at least 28 locations providing Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs in the United Kingdom, according to data from Coin ATM Radar. More than 50% of those crypto ATM locations are situated in London, with additional locations near Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, the data shows.

Bitcoin ATMs in the United Kingdom. Source: Coin ATM Radar

The latest attack on crypto ATMs in the U.K. is not the first action taken by the FCA. In March 2022, the same authority issued a similar statement on the termination of Bitcoin ATMs in the country, calling ATM operators to “shut down or face further action.”

At the time of writing, the FCA has issued registration to a total of 41 crypto firms in the United Kingdom, including platforms like Gemini, Zodia Custody, Bitpanda, Revolut and others.