UK FCA unveils guidelines for crypto operators ahead of ‘Travel Rule’ enforcement

From Sep. 1, 2023, crypto businesses in the UK will be legally required to collect, verify, and share transfer information, under the so-called “Travel Rule.” This directive, endorsed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), seeks to standardize procedures across crypto entities involved in sending and receiving transactions.

Under FAFT guidelines, crypto operators must identify the senders and recipients involved in funds transfers. While these more stringent anti-money laundering measures are at various stages of implementation globally, the UK is set to introduce even more rigorous regulations, including restrictions on advertising. Companies like PayPal have already ceased their crypto operations due to these impending rules.

In the context of this announcement, companies have to take all reasonable actions and demonstrate their commitment to ensuring full compliance with the Travel Rule. They must remain compliant, even if they enlist third-party providers.

The release also clarifies that in cases where the recipient company cannot acquire the required information, UK crypto businesses are expected to gather and verify the necessary details per the Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs). This information must be securely retained before proceeding with crypto transfers.

In April 2022, the UK Government, particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, set a clear ambition: to establish the UK as a global hub for crypto technology

Sunak emphasized that achieving this objective hinges on implementing robust regulations that inspire the required confidence for enduring strategic planning and investment.

In response to this declaration, the FCA released guidelines in June 2023 categorizing cryptocurrencies as high-risk investments. 

While both decisions have sparked some debate, they indicate a concerted effort to safeguard the interests of UK citizens in the face of market volatility. 

However, concluding whether these measures will suffice to establish the UK as a thriving crypto hub remains premature.

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