The UK Financial Conduct Authority continues to crack down on illegal Bitcoin ATM machines, this time targeting London.
FCA is cracking down
The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continued its crackdown on illegal Bitcoin ATMs this week. In doing so, it announced it had inspected several locations in East London suspected of hosting unregistered machines.
According to an announcement from the FCA on March 8, the financial regulator said it had been working with the Metropolitan Police to investigate several locations in the East London area. In addition, it continues to crack down on unregistered crypto-ATM machines in the UK.
The latest development in the FCA’s ongoing battle against illegal ATM machines follows similar raids in Leeds earlier this year. The raids were carried out jointly with the West Yorkshire Police’s Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit at the time.
General Bytes is one of the leading manufacturers of Bitcoin ATMs in the UK and around the world. The organization accounts for 25.2% of the global Bitcoin ATM market share. In addition, it has the most ATM installations in the world to its name. Kwik-Bit, a Bitcoin ATM company that previously operated in the London area, said its ATM had closed and was no longer operational.
According to an FCA announcement in 2022, there are currently no Bitcoin ATMs in the UK registered with the relevant authorities. This means that all Bitcoin ATMs in the UK are operating illegally.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said this operation, alongside last month’s action in Leeds, sends a clear signal that we will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto vending machines in the UK.
Popularity of Bitcoin ATMs
Bitcoin ATMS suddenly became very popular in 2021. In that same year, Bitcoin, Ethereum and the entire crypto industry rose to record highs. In the summer of 2021, more than 2,000 Bitcoin ATMs were installed every month around the world.
However, that trend has since reversed. For example, only 1,054 Bitcoin ATMs were installed between February and March of 2023.
According to global data from CoinATMRadar, there are currently 1,469 Bitcoin ATMs operating in Europe. Of these, only 18 are operational in the UK. There are 32,164 Bitcoin ATMs in the United States alone, representing 86% of the total.