Britain’s financial regulator is investigating 18 companies “involved in the sale of cryptocurrencies” – suspecting the firms of possible market irregularities.
The regulatory Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has refused to comment on the companies it is now investigating, or reveal their names, due to potential “commercial concerns.”
Media outlet the Sunday Telegraph says it received confirmation from the FCA that it “opened inquiries into 67 firms involved in cryptocurrency businesses” on November 12.
Of the 49 inquiries that have since been closed, by the FCA, the regulator either issued a warning or felt it had insufficient evidence to continue its investigations.
The FCA also revealed that it investigated an initial 24 companies back in May this year.
Britain does not currently have any cryptocurrency-related legislation in place, but, as newspaper the Financial Times reports, vendors who “sell regulated investments with an underlying cryptocurrency element” could require FCA clearance.
The news will likely provide further impetus for groups of British parliamentarians who are pushing for crypto-legislation. In September, the Treasury Committee stated that “regulation is needed for the ‘Wild West’ crypto-asset market,” and concluded that the “ambiguity of the UK Government and regulators’ position” was “clearly not sustainable.” The government has since indicated that it is prepared to hand the FCA more power to deal with cryptocurrency vendors.
Per the Financial Times, some parts of British blockchain sector would actually welcome regulations – and the legal clarification that they may bring. The outlet quotes a collective of British cryptocurrency-related companies, CryptoUK, as stating, “As an industry, we have been calling for the introduction of proportionate regulation. Over the coming months we will be working closely with policymakers, including the FCA, to develop new [regulations].”
Weekly LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, volume (in bitcoin) in the UK: