Crypto wallet firm Wirex has thrown in the towel on getting approved by the UK regulator, but has no plans to stop serving British customers.
The official, twice-revised deadline by which firms must either cease trading or get approved as part of the Financial Conduct Authority’s anti-money laundering regime falls on March 31, later this week.
Wirex had been part of the FCA’s temporary register, allowing it to carry on in the UK while awaiting a final decision from the watchdog. But the company, which boasts 250,000 British customers, told The Block today it has now withdrawn its application altogether.
Despite this, Wirex will continue to offer crypto services to British customers — only now it will do so from an overseas base in Croatia named Wirex Digital, which is registered with HANFA, the local regulator.
“These changes will not affect customers, and Wirex continues to provide their industry-leading services as normal for customers globally, including those in the UK,” said Wirex’s CEO, Pavel Matveev. He added that Wirex’s FCA-regulated e-money activities, offered through Wirex Limited, will continue unchanged.
Other crypto companies — including exchange giants like Coinbase — already offer services to British customers despite not being part of the FCA’s crypto register. It is somewhat bizarre state of play that has led to top-tier law firms advising crypto companies to avoid setting up operations in the UK, even if they hope to serve UK customers.
Giving up on the register
Wirex is not the first big player to withdraw from the temporary register ahead of the formal deadline. On March 11, The Block revealed that crypto market maker B2C2 had withdrawn from the list, with plans to shift its spot trading operations to a US entity.
Several big players in the crypto market — including neobank Revolut and Copper, the custodian — are still listed on the temporary register, awaiting a final decision.
While their fate is as yet unclear, a person familiar with the matter said that Revolut expects to continue selling crypto services beyond the March 31 deadline. Copper, meanwhile, recently set up an entity in crypto-friendly Switzerland that could offer a fallback option if its application fails.
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