Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced the suspension of new user registrations in the United Kingdom, effective immediately, in response to new regulations imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The move is part of the company’s efforts to align with the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding crypto assets, particularly in the promotion and advertising of digital assets to UK consumers.
The decision to cease accepting new users in the UK comes as a result of the FCA’s stringent rules around crypto asset promotions, which officially came into effect on October 8. These rules mandate that cryptocurrency firms must be registered with the FCA to independently approve their promotional materials and advertisements. Alternatively, firms can seek approval from authorised entities to ensure compliance with advertising regulations.
Binance had taken proactive steps to adhere to these regulations by partnering with Rebuildingsociety.com, a firm tasked with approving Binance’s promotional materials and advertisements in the UK. However, last week, the FCA intervened, stating that Rebuildingsociety.com lacked the necessary authorization to approve crypto-related ads. In response, Binance expressed its commitment to working closely with the FCA to find another FCA-authorised firm for the approval of financial promotions.
Existing Binance users in the UK who have completed the “Investor Declaration and Appropriateness Test” will still have access to the platform’s services. However, they will be restricted from accessing any new products or services introduced during this temporary suspension of new user registrations.
Binance’s recent move follows a series of regulatory challenges in the UK. In June, the cryptocurrency exchange withdrew its UK-based subsidiary, Binance Markets Limited (BML), from registration with the FCA. This decision came after the FCA flagged the subsidiary in mid-2021, leading to restrictions on BML’s engagement in regulated activities within the UK.
The company had also launched a dedicated domain, www.binance.com/en-GB, catering specifically to retail users in the UK. This domain aimed to provide services aligned with updated regulations, including fiat transactions, cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals, spot trading, margin trading, access to the NFT marketplace, Binance Pay, crypto loans, and the launchpad.
Binance’s recent setbacks in the UK add to the challenges the company has faced in 2023. Legal actions from US regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), coupled with a decline in market share, have posed significant hurdles. Binance’s share of the crypto market fell to 34% in September, marking the seventh consecutive month of declines since February when the exchange controlled almost 57% of the market.
In the last few months, Binance has also faced a string of executive resignations, including their APAC head Leon Foong, VP for Eastern Europe Gleb Kostarev, General Manager for Russia Vladimir Smerkis, and several others.
Despite these challenges, Binance had expressed its intent earlier this year to make a fresh bid for regulation in the UK. However, the company has not confirmed whether it has reapplied to the FCA’s regulatory regime for crypto businesses.
As the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies continues to evolve globally, Binance’s response to comply with regulatory requirements in the UK underscores the ongoing challenges faced by digital asset firms in navigating the complex regulatory environment.