Bitcoin ATMs forced to shut down in the UK

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Andy Savage

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The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) yesterday declared that ATMs offering “crypto-asset exchange services” in the UK must be registered with them and comply with UK “Money Laundering Regulations “. shows 70 machines still active at the time of writing, and yesterday it was 80.

Feigning concern over people losing money the, FCA stated “We regularly warn consumers that crypto assets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them”. Their own precious “pound” is now worth less than 1% of what it was worth in 1960.

Most operators in the UK were already seeking to get licensed though the process and low success rate turned down many applicants in the past. As an operator can still try to stay under the radar, some Bitcoin ATMs have been active without the official license.

The Bitcoin ATM industry has been growing for years as consumers want fast and easy access to either bitcoin or cash. Bitcoin ATMs allow to purchase bitcoin or liquidate with a simple visit to the next machine. Regulators in the EU have implemented harsh legal frameworks to control the market and make operators liable. The licenses are costly and the compliance burden is heavy in most EU countries.

The sudden change of direction by the FCA raises eyebrows as operators have approached legal certainty in the past years and specific licensing procedures were laid out by the regulator. So why does the FCA drop it like it’s hot now? Could it be related to capital flight from a inflationary currency? Or is international pressure a potential reason as Russians in the UK tried to get cash? It could also be seen as a final preparation of the market for a big institution to take over the entire Bitcoin ATM marketshare.

The so-called money laundering regulations are just a way to hold on to control of everything as the threat of bitcoin grows daily. The legacy banking system has until recently enjoyed a monopoly on creating money out of nothing. And far from being against money laundering, they are regularly convicted of it. They are only against everyone else’s freedom to conduct business as they choose. Especially distasteful is using a currency that they don’t own.

Nice ATM You Got There, Shame If Something Happened To It.

The establishment can’t compete with bitcoin’s ease of use and built-in protection against inflation. They have to make up reasons to make bitcoin artificially harder to use and more expensive to trade. With a level playing field, the bankers and their clunkycoins (TM) would quickly fade into oblivion.

So they make up regulations saying that companies have to have their approval for ATMs and then refuse to approve any. In true Al Capone style, they have “warned operators of crypto ATMs in the UK to shut their machines down or face enforcement action”. 

Distributed exchanges are becoming more useable as time goes by. Government crackdowns on digital exchanges may at first glance appear like a setback. But think, how often do you use a dollar exchange service, or “buy” dollars? Seldom for most people. When bitcoin is a thing you buy and sell with, such things will be of no concern. And the bankers will have to find something useful to do or perish.

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