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Crypto Exchange Binance Eyes UK License With Regulator, Again

Crypto exchange Binance is trying to revive its chances of gaining a license with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

4 min read
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance. Image: Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

Crypto exchange Binance is again trying to gain a license in the UK under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to The Sunday Telegraph

This news comes after the exchange was categorically dismissed by the FCA earlier this year. 

“We’re fully re-engaged there. We’re making a number of very substantial changes in organizational structures, product offerings, our internal processes, and the way we work with regulators,” Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO, reportedly said. 

“We want to continue to establish a presence in the UK and serve UK users in a fully licensed and fully compliant manner,” he added. 

If that were to ever happen, it would come in the form of Binance becoming registered as a crypto asset business under the UK’s money laundering regulations. 

This is not the first time the industry's largest crypto exchange has tried to open the FCA’s doors, and last time it failed.

Binance foray into the UK

It’s been a turbulent year for Binance’s relationship with the FCA. 

The relationship became strained in June when the FCA issued a consumer warning over Binance Markets Limited (BML)—the exchange’s UK entity which was set up to own and operate a would-be service to UK customers. 

“Binance Markets Limited is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the UK. This firm is part of a wider group (Binance Group),” the FCA said. 

At the time, onlookers questioned whether or not the FCA’s decision was tantamount to a ban. UK customers could, however, still access Binance’s services via the exchange’s website. 

Instead, the FCA published its warning “to protect consumers as much as we can.” 

What was the FCA so worried about? 

Speaking to Decrypt, an FCA spokesperson said the consumer warning was related to BML’s anti-money laundering standards. 

“Putting two and two together, we obviously have issues with standards in that area,” the spokesperson said. 

Things got worse for Binance in August, when the FCA said Binance Markets Limited was “not capable of being effectively supervised” after it failed to provide even basic information about its business. 

“The FCA considers that the firm’s responses have been incomplete and have included direct refusals to provide information. These include failures to provide details about how the business and [Binance] Group are organized,” the FCA said. 

Decrypt has asked Binance why the exchange believes this go-around with the FCA will end more favorably than the last. 

What’s more, Decrypt has asked Binance to detail the “substantial changes” to organizational structure, product offerings, internal processes, and the way the exchange works with regulators. We have yet to receive a response.

Binance’s future in Britain 

Despite the exchange’s track record with the FCA, CZ believes Binance can turn the corner in the UK. 

“Our team has definitely had very positive interactions with the FCA since then, we requested in person meetings as soon as we saw that notice. So that communication is definitely happening,” CZ said. 

He also added that Binance has hired a “number of ex-regulatory staff from the UK” and a “couple of hundred compliance people” since June. 

Binance’s renewed effort to bring the FCA onside is also part of the exchange’s effort to establish a global headquarters—the absence of which having caused issues with regulators the world over

Beyond the FCA’s shores, Binance has also been trying to make landfall in Ireland. 

The Irish Independent recently reported that Binance wishes Ireland to become the exchange’s home base even amid warnings from the country’s central bank about buying cryptocurrencies.

Decrypt has reached out to the FCA for comment on this story. We will update this article should we receive a response.

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