back to article Cryptocurrency ATMs illegal right now in UK

All cryptocurrency ATMs are operating illegally in the UK and must be shut down now, the nation's Financial Conduct Authority said in an alert on Friday. Terminals accepting or dispensing crypto-coins in the country must be registered with the watchdog to make sure they comply with Blighty's Money Laundering Regulations (MLR …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As far as I could tell from the few I saw abroad, they're a double ripoff. First of all, their exchange rates were about as much of a ripoff as currency exchanges inside transport hubs like trainstations and airports, and secondly, well, it's crypto.

  2. Stratman

    Crypto ATMs. Do they have spinning wheels and a big lever on the side?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      *JACKPOT* !!!

    2. CommonBloke

      They do, but the prize is only dispensed to the owning companies

  3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    ...there goes your untraceable and tax-free pimping and drug money hole in the wall folks!

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Have they stopped them dispensing notes, as well?

      1. Quentin Reid

        I've only ever seen photos of gold Bitcoin coins. They are too high a denomination to be dispensed and there are no Bitcoin paper, or even the modern plastic, notes in circulation.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Then again, I have to suspect that the sort of people using them aren't the sort to be put off by their being illegal.

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Quite. We can't have a monetary system that isn't controlled by the powers that be. Crypto was created expressly to ensure you could buy the things you wanted (weed, mainly) without the encumbrance of the state telling you that it's just not on, being able to do what YOU want to do.

        Oh no. We have to have controls somewhere, you know. I mean, what would happen if this were to catch on and everyone could do this? We'd have holes in the wall.

        Oh wait...

        1. dafe

          Have you heard of cash money? It is anonymous, difficult to trace, widely accepted, easy to carry.

          Crypto is inherently traceable, which wallets holds which coins, not just what amounts but the individual, unique, items, is public record, so every transaction is also visible to anyone who cares to look.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            crypto isn't traceable if you get it from an ATM though...which is kind of the point. And a lot easier to buy certain things off the internet with it than cash...

          2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            re cash : easy to carry

            Watch out if you are carrying even $500 in parts of the USA. Get stopped for something like speeding, driving too slowly, being black, and you could lose all your cash even if you have proof that you came by it legally due to 'Civil Asset Forfeiture. The Local PD takes the cash, sends it to the DEA and gets back around 80-90% of clean legal money...

            A nice earner for the PD and the person losing the $$$ has to sue the DEA and prove that it wasn't illegally obtained or the proceeds of drug pushing/trafficking.

            That costs money and... oh yes, you have lost it.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: re cash : easy to carry

              where did you hear THIS myth, exactly?

              1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

                Re: where did you hear THIS myth, exactly?

                Please look at the Youtube channel 'Lehto's Law'. The guy presenting it is an attorney in Michigan. He has covered a number of cases where this actually happened from a traffic stop.

                In one case, A serving soldier was stopped on a spurious traffic charge and lost the several thousand $$$ that he was carrying to give to his daughter. The cops had no 'just cause' to search his car but they did.

                It is not a myth but the upside is that some states are outlawing this practice.

                Then, of course, you could google 'civil asset forfeiture'. It is not a myth BB. Far from it.

        2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

          Crypto might as well have been invented expressly to keep the ransomware industry going. I think because that appears to be its main real-world application, any jurisdiction worth its salt should make its use illegal. Then nobody will be able to buy the sodding things and the ransomware people will have nowhere to get their money from.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Not exclusively, There are all the exchanges where you can store your currency before they mysteriously close down and their operators disappear. That's an application in its own right.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Ransomware didn't come into existence when cryptocurrency did. The small outfits might shut down without it as a cash flow mechanism, but the big ones that regularly get massive payments will find an alternative. Making payment of the ransom illegal is as if not more likely to put them out of business (some will still pay and break the law, but fewer).

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge

              at some point they could require payment through some other means, such as pre-paid credit cards, and then "launder" the funds in the usual ways. SOME criminals might be caught if bitcoin were not used for the transfer of funds, and SOME money laundering schemes might lead to arrests, but nothing would actually change, with OR without bitcoin.

              (you could even use diamonds as currency, kinda like Klaatu in "The day the earth stood still")

        3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

          It'll simply return underground: scary meets and person to dodgy person transactions again, as it was before bitcoin ATMs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now where did I leave that NFC of the worlds smallest violin?

    1. Quentin Reid

      If it's over 4cm away you won't be able to locate it.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Hello Mein Herr Goose, Meet Frau Gander?

    How legal and regulated and safe be your money in these new banking/laundry facilities? .....

    Eaton Square in Belgravia is one of the most high-profile addresses in London. It is lined with gleaming white 19th century porticoed townhouses, four to five stories high, which sell for upwards of £54 million. Buckingham Palace is down the road.

    But according to Companies House, the official register of UK firms, it also has the greatest concentration of banks in the country with more than 30 registered (incorporated) since January last year, many next door to each other.

    And it is not the only area that bankers appear to want to set up a business. A few streets away there is a cluster on Gloucester Street in Pimlico. Lennox Gardens in Chelsea is also a popular location. There are about 200 banks with addresses ..... blah blah blah bla .....

    London does though have an unfortunate, although apparently richly deserved reputation for self serving duplicitous behaviour/tendentious hypocrisy/arrogant hubris, so such news should not be any great surprise .... nor the fact that they are enabled to survive and prosper and escape investigation and sanction should they be right bloody dodgy and not conducive to the greater good of all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hello Mein Herr Goose, Meet Frau Gander?

      You have inadvertently sex-swapped your geese, btw.

      Or maybe things are different for geese from Mars...?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Hello Mein Herr Goose, Meet Frau Gander?

        Oops, Crikey .... indeed so I have, inadvertently sex-swapped your geese, AC. Well spotted, Sir and/or Madam/They. I apologise unreservedly for that unintentional wokeism.

        It’s a jolly good show such a conversion/reversion/transformation in humans and creatures is never inadvertent. Can you imagine the confusion and chaos, madness and mayhem in the ignorant such as would result would cause?

        Too much novel information, brain overload, binary operating systems malfunction and fail .... :-)

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Hello Mein Herr Goose, Meet Frau Gander?

        Martian geese are all male. Didn't you know that?

        (the joke is subtle, I "gander")

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, cause telling people not to play with Bitcoin and the like has had such a tremendous effect on its uptake...

    People who want to get fleeced by the Ponzi schemes will be fleeced; no amount of oversight or regulation can protect the willfully ignorant from their own foolishness.

    1. dafe

      People being scammed is no reason to make scamming legal. Or easy.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    Let's look at this from a different point of view

    Psst, hey buddy, need to launder some D-C? go to this address, knock 4 times fast, then cough. When my associate answers the door, you say 30%... The B-C terminal is on the loo... first on the right?!!

  8. low_resolution_foxxes

    I was thinking "those ATMs that sell gold bars in Dubai shopping malls finally have competition".

    I'm wondering if this is a Russian common laundering tactic?

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    FCA equipment approval

    I guess one question is, for those who have registered, does their equipment not have FCA equipment approval because it is actually not meeting some technical or other standard? Or is this just FCA playing the game of just indefinitely sitting on applications because, per existing rules, they should be approved and they don't want to?

    Don't get me wrong, I think crypto ATMs are daft. But I'm also not a fan of regulators sitting on applications because they want to effectively ban something without bothering to change the rules to do so.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not far from Silicon Roundabout...

    IIRC, the first and only time I saw one of these was, a few years ago, well before the first lockdown, when there was a Google for Startups Campus, in Bonhill St.

    (Shoreditch in London, for those who don't know where Silicon Roundabout is!)

  11. heyrick Silver badge

    are unregulated and high-risk

    Hmmm, oil futures, stock market, currencies, even some forms of long term savings - what was it the adverts used to say at the end? The value of your investments can go down as well as up. And god knows things are volatile right now...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: are unregulated and high-risk

      Those investments are tied to the real economy though, and have real-life consequences like hostile take-overs and people being evicted from their own homes when the winners chash in their chips. (Which is why speculation on food futures is not allowed anymore.)

      With crypto, people only lose their money.

      However, crypto is not regulated, which means that people will lose not only due to bad luck, but also due to cheating, software bugs, or outright theft. How can you reliably hide your stash from the tax men when some "autist" steals your savings with a cleverly crafted smart contract?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        And ... it's gone.* <s>Stolen</s>Transferred into A.N.Others' Account, just as simple as that.

        However, crypto is not regulated, which means that people will lose not only due to bad luck, but also due to cheating, software bugs, or outright theft. ..... Anonymous Coward

        Is the converse/obverse/opposite of that statement, AC, that fiat and regular wealth IS regulated, and people will not lose only due to bad luck, nor by cheating, software bugs, or outright theft?

        I can imagine those who have been labelled Russian oligarchs would disagree fundamentally with that and consider it misinformation/disinformation.

        And the law in all of its wigged glory is surely in something of an unfortunate quandary due to its noticeable absence and media silence in such recent proceedings.

        * ......

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: are unregulated and high-risk

        How can you reliably hide your stash from the tax men

        The super rich hide it in plain sight

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: are unregulated and high-risk

          or in the Cayman Islands

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: are unregulated and high-risk

        "but also due to cheating, software bugs, or outright theft"

        Hmm, cheating? The Libor scandal?

        Software bugs? Wasn't there one that did something like a billion bad transactions in a minute and nearly cratered the stock exchange?

        Outright theft? In less regulated places, it might be worth checking bank statements carefully. Sometimes a number of hidden charges turn up. Not to mention degrees of unwillingness to admit to fraud, something they call "sweeping", and also closing supposedly dormant accounts (and keeping the money). Sometimes just closing accounts, but they won't say why "because security reasons" and you may or may not see the money which may or may not be after unexplained internal investigations that may or may not take forever (PayPal is notorious for this, but they aren't a real bank).

        You're more likely to get screwed by crypto, certainly, but please don't portray the legitimate banking system as saints. They aren't. They're a necessary (in our capitalist world) evil.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: are unregulated and high-risk

      "The value of your investments can go down as well as up."

      If you're lucky. Otherwise they just go.

    3. Ogi

      Re: are unregulated and high-risk

      > The value of your investments can go down as well as up

      Very true. I was using one of those real estate investment trusts to save up money for a deposit. They had FCA accreditation, tax-free ISA's, were recommended by newspapers, media etc... as a way to boost your interest rate tax free for a future home.

      Fat good it did when they went under half way through covid. Out of the tens of thousands I had saved up for my mortgage, they have so far returned around £400, the rest is "attempting to be recovered", but could be up to 5 years before they finish, with no guarantee how much I will get back.

      Ironically enough, my BTC has outperformed my "regulated" savings by a wide margin, even with the ~30% haircut in the last few months.

      In my case, I "hedged" by having some savings in BTC and some in ISAs etc... so I didn't lose everything, but my goal of a place of my own have been set back a few years.

      Just goes to show that just because something is approved and regulated by the FCA, does not mean you don't have a risk of loss of your savings, especially when there are market shocks (first covid, and now the latest geopolitical events). Things are definitely volatile right now.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    or "face further action."????

    The FCA warned them to shut down their machines or "face further action."

    Shirley, by definition, all crypto ATM operators should be facing further action, whether they already shut up shop or are still operating. They are illegal under current legislation, therefore the operators were, and in some case still are, breaking the law. Ignorance is no excuse, we are constantly told.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: or "face further action."????

      Well yes but the FCA have no enforcement budget, the Tories not wishing to have their own and their donors activities scrutinised have cut the budget to almost zero.

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: or "face further action."????

      Leave it to El Reg to put "face further action" in quotes.

      Further action undoubtedly refers to a second press release, with some particularly harsh words therein.

  13. nobody who matters

    Tells you all you need to know when most of the crypto operators haven't even registered, much less get their operations approved. Criminals feasting on the greed of the terminally gullible.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do as we say, not as we do

    I love the way the government crack down on anything illegal or illegal-adjacent when it comes to normal people, but they quite happily launder billions of public money for themselves and their mates

  15. Velv

    Maybe they can be converted to sell NFTs?

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