The Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulation authority, has granted an operating licence to another cryptocurrency company. This is the third e-money licence that it has issued.
The recipient company is Wirex of London, whose main product is a cryptocurrency payment card. It was established in 2014 as E-Coin, rebranded to Wirex in February 2016 and by September 2017 had registered $1 billion of transactions and 800,000 users, according to its website.
E-Licence for E-Coin
The card is pre-paid debit card, meaning that it must be loaded up with money before use. It converts cryptocurrency into pounds, euros and dollars to allow everyday transactions. In April 2018 it added Litecoin to its roster of supported altcoins, which number over 50 according to its website.
Wirex also operates a payment network called W-Pay, which it launched in September 2017. The company said in the press release that the approval, which took approximately nine months to process, will allow it to support 25 additional currencies.
Wirex co-founder Dmitry Lazarichev said: “The licence will not materially affect how we engage with our current clients, although they will benefit from more streamlined services and potentially even lower rates than we currently offer.”
Other founder Pavel Matveev added that the company is pursuing additional licences in Singapore, Japan and North America. The firm currently has offices in London, Singapore, Tokyo, Delaware, Toronto and Kiev.
Playing in the sandbox
In March, the FCA granted an e-money licence to Coinbase, the company behind the US’ biggest cryptocurrency exchange. This granted that company access to British banks and the EU, and in August the firm added support for pound sterling to make it easier for UK citizens to buy cryptocurrency.
The FCA has been managing a sandbox, or protected testing environment, for financial technology firms since June 2016. In June and July 2018 it accepted two British cryptocurrency companies to this programme, Globacap and BlockEx. Both firms want to use blockchain technology to offer a range of financial services.
The watchdog said that of the 69 different companies that applied for a place in its latest induction phase, 40 percent use blockchain in some way.
At the same time, the FCA has been busy warning the public about numerous cryptocurrency-related companies that are either unregulated or outright scams. In June it issued a notice against Cryptorobot365, and in August warned against dealing with the companies Fair Oaks Crypto, BINEXT Solutions SRL, SMO Investments Limited, and 365 Markets.
It also recently sent a letter to UK banks telling them to apply ‘enhanced scrutiny‘ on customers that use cryptocurrency.