UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is conducting an inquiry into the activities of 24 cryptocurrency firms to determine if they are “carrying on regulated activities that require FCA authorisation.”
The disclosure was reportedly made after a freedom of information request. The names of the 24 firms under investigation have not however been revealed.
The body will decide whether to take action against the operators after concluding the inquiry. This could be in the form of warnings or actual criminal prosecution.
According to the Financial Times, the aim of the review is to “identify and determine the most serious matters which pose the greatest risk to consumers.” The inquiry is being carried out jointly with the Treasury and Bank of England.
Findings will be published in the third quarter of 2018. The FCA will also be looking into whether it should regulate cryptocurrencies. Only companies seeking to launch cryptocurrency derivatives are currently required to seek approval from the FCA.
An association of cryptocurrency businesses including exchanges and brokers have recently come together to call for more regulation in the sector. The body called CryptoUK has a set of rules which members must abide by. The association is also sensitizing legislators on cryptocurrencies.
In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been cracking down on cryptocurrency related businesses and initial coin offerings since early this year. Several people have been charged for issuing unregistered securities. Other cases involve fraud.
The SEC has also subpoenaed different firms including Bitfinex.
Still in the US, the Department of Justice is conducting an inquiry into possible market manipulation. The investigation is reportedly looking into possible wash trading and spoofing.
Japan which has one of the most robust cryptocurrency regulations polices cryptocurrency businesses with zeal. This after several high profile heists involving exchanges operating in the country. Japan enforces strict security requirements to protect users.
South Korea instituted cryptocurrency regulations back in January after wild speculation over cryptocurrencies. Traders can only use real-name bank accounts, for example, a move that has proved expensive for banks.
UK’s FCA was set to issue guidelines on cryptocurrencies later this year. It has previously issued warnings about the risks of initial coin offerings.
Bank of England chief Mark Carney has previously raised concerns over money laundering but said the sector did not pose any threat to financial stability.