Wirex Limited, the popular global crypto/fiat payment platform, has just become the third cryptocurrency-enabled company in the world to be granted a UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) e-money licence (No: 902025).
An FCA licence is a big deal for any financial institution, but when a cryptocurrency-friendly company qualifies, the implications for the financial world are of even greater significance. Cryptocurrencies have been under the regulatory spotlight ever since Bitcoin stole the headlines in late 2017. To earn an FCA licence in a market that is under intense regulatory scrutiny is no mean feat.
“Wirex pursued an FCA e-money licence in order to improve and refine its e-money services throughout the EEA. Having our own principal licence, instead of our existing FCA agency licence, means increased efficiency and lower costs,” says Wirex co-founder, Pavel Matveev. He says that, in the long-term, it will allow Wirex to better serve its customers, with less reliance on third parties. This should translate into a faster, more responsive user experience, as well as lower costs across all services.
London is one of world’s leading financial hubs and the UK’s FCA is one of the most stringent regulators in the world. The FCA’s e-money licencing procedure is rigorous, taking up to 9 months to complete. When a financial institution is granted a licence, customers can be sure it meets the highest possible standards in terms of compliance, security and business practices.
Co-founder Dmitry Lazarichev says, “The licence will not materially affect how we engage with our current clients, although they will benefit from more streamlined services and potentially even lower rates than we currently offer.”
Lazarichev believes that “the licence is a testament to the fact that Wirex is committed to pursuing and achieving the highest levels of diligence and integrity in its business operations. As the FCA’s role is to protect consumers, maintain the stability of the financial services industry and promote healthy competition between financial services providers, Wirex’s submission to the FCA’s jurisdiction should leave our 1.8 million users in no doubt that Wirex will provide them with a best-in-class platform and accompanying service.”
The FCA’s approach to cryptocurrencies has been relatively cautious, but their progressive stance towards blockchain technologies is encouraging. Wirex’s admission as an FCA-regulated institution demonstrates that companies willing to undertake stringent security and compliance practices will be considered. It is important to note that Wirex is not an ICO company. It is backed by large financial institutions, and as such, it distances itself from the ICO industry that has gained a reputation for fraud, hacking and general impropriety.
“It is Wirex’s intention to seek equivalent licences (and other complementary ones) around the world,” Matveev confirms. “Wirex’s UK e-money licence is just the first part of creating a much broader, value-added offering, which will more widely cater to both consumers and businesses alike. Wirex is on an aggressive expansion path and in the process of obtaining licences in Asian markets including Singapore and Japan, as well as expanding into North America. The new FCA licence will enable Wirex to create additional e-money accounts in over 25 different currencies which means we can deliver a more bespoke service.”