Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, speaks during a TV interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.
Akio Kon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON – Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been banned from operating in the U.K. by the country’s markets regulator, in the latest sign of a growing crackdown on the crypto market around the world.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said Saturday that Binance Markets Limited, the U.K. division of Binance, “is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the U.K.”
From June 30, the company — which already offers Brits crypto trading through its website — must add a notice in a prominent place in its website and apps showing U.K. users the following text:
BINANCE MARKETS LIMITED IS NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERTAKE ANY REGULATED ACTIVITY IN THE U.K. Due to the imposition of requirements by the FCA, Binance Markets Limited is not currently permitted to undertake any regulated activities without the prior written consent of the FCA. (No other entity in the Binance Group holds any form of U.K. authorisation, registration or license to conduct regulated activity in the U.K.).
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volumes, was set to launch its own digital asset marketplace in Britain. However, it was one of several crypto firms that withdrew applications to register with the FCA due to not meeting anti-money laundering requirements.
“Binance Markets Limited withdrew their 5MLD application on 17 May 2021 following intensive engagement from the FCA,” a spokesperson for the FCA told CNBC. “The action taken today on Binance Markets Limited has been in train for some time.”
The FCA spokesperson clarified that the scope of the ban was limited. Though Binance Markets Limited is banned from offering regulated services in Britain, non-registered firms can still interact with U.K. consumers. That means Binance could still offer Brits crypto trading through its website.
A Binance spokesperson told CNBC: “The FCA U.K. notice has no direct impact on the services provided on Binance.com … Our relationship with our users has not changed.”
“We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators and we take our compliance obligations very seriously,” the spokesperson added. “We are actively keeping abreast of changing policies, rules and laws in this new space.”
“The FCA has stated that Binance is not permitted to conduct regulated activities in the U.K.,” Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said via email. “Providing access to cryptocurrencies itself is not a regulated activity, but offering derivatives is, which is presumably the activity the FCA is clamping down on.”
The FCA isn’t the only regulator clamping down on the crypto industry.
Japan’s Financial Services Agency warned last week that Binance was operating in the country without its permission.
Meanwhile, China has stepped up efforts to stamp out crypto speculation, ordering digital currency miners to cease operations in a number of regions and urging banks and payment firms not to offer crypto-related services.
Increased regulatory scrutiny has weighed on the nascent crypto market. Bitcoin had a solid start to the year, rallying to an all-time high of almost $65,000 in April. But it’s since almost halved in value, trading at $34,783 as of Monday morning.
“This isn’t a step change in regulation which is going to knock the crypto craze on the head, but it is part of a growing trend of regulatory intervention in crypto markets,” Khalaf said, referring to the FCA’s restrictions on Binance.
“The idea that policy makers are simply going to allow a decentralised shadow payments system to emerge without any regulatory oversight is fantastical, and if the use of cryptoassets becomes more widespread, we can expect beefed-up regulation to follow suit.”