• There are 80 bitcoin ATMs or tellers in the UK, per data from Coin ATM Radar
  • The FCA said “people should be prepared to lose all their money” if they invest in crypto assets because they are unregulated

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Friday that all crypto ATMs are prohibited from operating in the UK.

The regulator “warned” crypto ATM operators to “shut their machines down” or “face enforcement action,” according to a Friday statement.

Data from Coin ATM Radar shows 80 bitcoin ATMs or tellers operate in the UK, none of which has been approved to offer crypto ATM services.

“We regularly warn consumers that crypto assets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them,” the FCA said in its announcement.

The news follows UK tax watchdog Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ confiscation of three NFTs last month in an almost $2 million fraud probe. 

Three people were arrested on suspicion of fraud as a result of the investigation. Suspects used virtual private networks (VPNs), stolen identities, fake addresses and unregistered phones to try to hide illegal activities.

This was the country’s first seizure of a blockchain-based digital collectible.

Nick Sharp, deputy director of economic crime at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, told the BBC that the authority is “constantly adapting to new technology to ensure [they] keep pace with how criminals and evaders look to conceal their assets.”

The use of bitcoin ATMs has come under increasing scrutiny elsewhere in the world as well. New licensing guidelines from the ​​Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) forced ATM operators there to shut down in January.

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  • Morgan Chittum is a New York-based reporter covering NFTs, the metaverse, play-to-earn gaming and other emerging Web3 tech for Blockworks. Previously she was a street reporter, covering crime at New York Daily News, and a media and journalism fellow at the Poynter Institute. Contact Morgan via email at [email protected]