UK fintech Wirex has today launched its services in the US, almost one year after its original launch date of April 2021.
Wirex CEO Pavel Matveev says it currently has 300,000 US customers on its waiting list. In the US, the company sees Coinbase as a key competitor and believes it can compete with the exchange by offering zero exchange rates.
Wirex allows its users to buy, hold and exchange fiat currencies — such as US dollars and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether — in an account linked to a debit card.
Spearheaded by its US CEO Harold Montgomery, the company has partnered with Zero Hash to get local permissions to hold cryptocurrencies, and the Ohio-based Sutton Bank in order to issue its debit card in the country.
Last year, one month before announcing its April US launch, the company temporarily paused UK sign-ups following discussions with the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regarding anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. This followed a Fintech Futures report that customers were being locked out of their accounts without explanation.
“We voluntarily took restrictions after our conversation with the FCA,” says Matveev. “We’re progressing well, we resumed our services for existing customers. And we're planning to resume onboarding of new customers relatively soon, but it takes time with the regulators.”
Matveev says that the talks with the FCA are “unrelated” to the delayed launch. He pointed instead to the company having committed resources to its APAC launch, coupled with time constraints related to integrating with local partners in the US.
Currently, the fintech firm is registered with the FCA on a temporary basis as a cryptoasset firm following a January 2020 announcement that the authority would become the AML supervisor for companies in the digital asset space. It’s on track to meet the end of March deadline to register with the FCA on a permanent basis, says Matveev.
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