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EU Regulation Attracts Crypto Giants, Shaping Crypto Future, as UK Tightens Controls

Last Updated December 26, 2023 2:12 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated December 26, 2023 2:12 PM

Key Takeaways

  • The UK’s stricter regulations have limited its progress compared to the EU’s welcoming MiCA framework.
  • Recent FCA regulations are highlighting the UK’s balancing act between innovation and consumer protection.
  • Adapting to regulatory landscapes, Revolut offers full crypto services in the EU but limited options in the US and UK.

The UK has an ambition to become a crypto hub. However, its progress in developing comprehensive blockchain policies has been relatively slow. There are, though, indications of movement towards more structured regulation in the sector, with a phased approach being planned.

Recent developments, however, revealed that fintech company Revolut is modifying its cryptocurrency services for UK business clients by halting crypto trading for its business clients in the United Kingdom.

Revolut Chasing EU’s MICA Shadow

These modifications are necessary for Revolut to comply with new regulatory requirements, although specific details about these changes were not disclosed. The restriction is set to begin on January 3, preceding the FCA’s new rules , which take effect on January 8. At the same time, the European Union is progressing with its Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) Regulation, potentially making it an attractive destination for international crypto companies.

Indeed, Revolut’s recent decision targets business accounts in the UK. While the firm is set to restrict crypto purchases for British business clients, retail customers will continue to have uninterrupted access to Revolut.

EU’s Clear Crypto Rules Attract Global Giants, UK Falters

The landscape of cryptocurrency regulation and business operations is distinctly evolving in the European Union. The EU is becoming a hub for international crypto companies, with several major players from the industry establishing or expanding their presence there.

  • Robinhood’s Expansion into the EU: Robinhood, an American company, recently started trading crypto in the EU. This was made possible through its Lithuania-licensed entity, signifying a strategic move to tap into the European market.
  • EU’s Progressive Crypto Regulations: The EU has a proactive stance on crypto regulations. The MiCA (Markets in Crypto-Assets) rules, already approved by the pan-European legislative body, are set to come in next year. Despite facing criticism for stringent reporting requirements, these regulations are generally viewed positively by the crypto industry for providing a clear regulatory framework.
  • Coinbase’s Strong EU Presence: Coinbase, a significant player in the crypto exchange market, has solidified its operations across various EU countries. With licenses in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy, Coinbase is not only complying with local regulations but also leveraging these regions for strategic purposes, such as establishing Germany as a talent hub and identifying Ireland as its primary global regulatory center.
  • Other Companies in the EU Market: The EU’s favorable regulatory environment has attracted a range of crypto companies. Firms like eToro, Crypto.com have obtained registrations with European regulators. This allows them to operate seamlessly within the continent.

This trend underscores the EU’s role as a crypto-friendly region. This contrasts with the UK adopting more restrictive measures. The EU’s regulatory clarity and openness are likely key factors in attracting these global crypto businesses.

Ambitious but Challenging Path to Becoming a Crypto Hub

The UK has long been a powerhouse in the financial services sector, with London being a pivotal European center for banks and other financial institutions. Despite the reshuffling of operations due to Brexit, the Square Mile maintains its influential position. UK lawmakers are striving to transform the country into a fintech and cryptocurrency hub. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plays a crucial role in regulating the crypto industry within the UK, presenting some challenges to this ambition.

Recently, the FCA updated its regulations concerning cryptocurrency marketing. These new rules, effective from January 8, aim to integrate the “Consumer Duty Act” into crypto promotional activities. Notable changes include a mandatory 24-hour “cooling off” period for new investors and a prohibition on incentives like referral bonuses. These regulations are part of the UK’s effort to balance innovation with consumer protection in the evolving crypto sector.

Protecting Consumers or Stifling Innovation?

This regulatory shift has led to notable reactions from major fintech companies. Not only has Revolut suspended its business crypto dealings, but PayPal has temporarily halted its crypto offerings in the UK.

These developments reflect the complex landscape of cryptocurrency regulation in the UK. The country’s efforts to establish itself as a crypto hub have to negotiate past stringent regulatory measures. This balancing act presents both opportunities and challenges for fintech companies operating in the UK’s dynamic financial ecosystem.

Revolut’s strategy reflects a careful navigation of the diverse regulatory environments in each region it operates. By adapting its services to meet local regulatory requirements, Revolut aims to maintain a strong presence in key markets while expanding its banking and financial services. This approach underscores the importance of regulatory compliance in the fintech sector, especially in areas like cryptocurrency, which are subject to rapidly evolving rules and standards.

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