Winklevoss crypto exchange explores UK market

Photo: Wikipedia

Company founded by twins has hired advisers on potential move to Britain.

The US cryptocurrency exchange set up by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss is exploring plans to expand into the UK despite sharp falls in the market.

New York-based Gemini Trust Company, which was founded by the twins in 2014 and is among the top 100 crypto exchanges by volume traded, has hired advisers to consult on a potential move to Britain, according to two sources close to the process.

The company, which offers crypto trading and custody services, is also close to filing an application with the UK markets watchdog for regulatory approval, one source said.

More than 400 crypto exchanges have now sprung up around the world and many had bumper revenues towards the end of last year because of spectacular rises in the market. However, cryptocurrency prices have since sunk to 10-month lows in a major sell-off that is taking its toll across the industry.

Regulators have also grown increasingly concerned. Last week, UK politicians called for the government to regulate “Wild West” crypto-asset markets, citing worries about losses for investors and money-laundering.

At the same time, the New York attorney-general’s office has published a report that found “pervasive” conflicts of interest at many cryptocurrency exchanges, including some undertaking high levels of trading on their own account. Most did not do enough to prevent market manipulation, the attorney-general said.

Nevertheless, some exchanges are investing in security and compliance and international expansion in the hope the sector will mature.

In April this year, Gemini hired the Nasdaq stock exchange to monitor its trading venue for market abuse. It has formal accreditation from New York’s Department of Financial Services to operate as a trust company under New York banking law and, earlier this month, was one of two companies to receive approval from the state for a digital currency pegged to the dollar.

Nasdaq Stock Exchange (Wikimedia Commons)

“Gemini continues to explore potential jurisdictions around the globe to provide a best-in-class digital asset exchange and custodian which will enable growth and infrastructure to the entire digital asset community,” Gemini said.

“Although we have no immediate plans, we … will always evaluate opportunities that allow the global economy to buy, sell and store digital assets in a regulated, secure and compliant manner.”

While the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority does not currently oversee the industry, several crypto companies, including US exchange Coinbase, are regulated under the watchdog’s emoney licence, meaning they have to carry out money-laundering checks when they sign up customers, as a bank would.



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