Tag Archives: cryptoassets

TP ICAP to Launch Crypto Trading Platform with Fidelity and Standard Chartered

TP ICAP, a leading provider of market infrastructure, is to launch an innovative wholesale trading platform for cryptoassets, working in collaboration with Fidelity Digital AssetsSM, Zodia Custody and Flow Traders.

The new platform, which is subject to registration with the UK Financial Conduct Authority, will feature a wholesale electronic marketplace for spot cryptoasset trading, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as providing connectivity and post-trade infrastructure into a network of digital assets custodians. 

TP ICAP is working with Fidelity Digital Assets and Zodia Custody, both leading crypto assets custodians, to ensure clients have a segregated and interoperable model for execution and settlement, a key requirement for clients entering this new asset class. The firms have collaborated to develop a new trading model where clients will be able to access liquidity at TP ICAP whilst their assets remain under custody at their digital asset custodian of choice, providing a level of security that institutional investors expect.  Fidelity Digital Assets and Zodia Custody will provide custodian services to the new platform.

TP ICAP launched its Digital Assets business in 2019, enabling clients to trade cryptoasset derivatives products; this new trading platform for the spot market significantly expands the firm’s footprint in this fast-growing area.

Simon Forster, Co-Head of Digital Assets at TP ICAP, said: “Client demand to trade spot cryptoassets is significant and growing, with interest coming from our traditional customer base across the different asset classes we operate in.  But to date many of our clients have been prevented from accessing cryptoasset markets due to current limitations in market infrastructure, with most execution venues requiring pre-funding and also acting as custodian. This poses challenges from a conflict of interest perspective and results in fragmented liquidity. Our partnership, and resultant new platform, is a natural evolution in market structure that will make digital assets, such as Bitcoin, more accessible for the wholesale market.”

TP ICAP has also partnered with Flow Traders, a leading global financial technology-enabled liquidity provider in financial products, historically specialised in Exchange Traded Products (ETPs), now expanding into other asset classes. Flow Traders has been providing liquidity to cryptoasset markets since 2016 and will be one of the initial liquidity providers on this new platform.

Michael Lie, Head of Digital Asset Trading at Flow Traders said “We are delighted to be partnering with TP ICAP as a liquidity provider on this new platform. As the #1 market maker in cryptocurrency ETPs, as well as being a leading spot OTC liquidity provider, we have seen first-hand the increase in institutional interest in cryptoassets. We have long been in favour of initiatives such as this that will make the crypto space more accessible for investors.”

The platform has already started to onboard clients and will launch to the market in the second half of the year, by which time TP ICAP expects to announce additional liquidity providers. TP ICAP is also working closely with a number of additional strategic custody partners and expects to expand its network of digital asset custodians as it establishes a new industry model for clearing and settlement.

The TP ICAP Digital Assets business is led by Duncan Trenholme and Simon Forster and operates from the firm’s offices in London, New York, and will soon expand into Asia. The trading platform, which will be launched in London, will be made available globally to customers across the TP ICAP Group as well as to new clients of the firm seeking market access to this new asset class.

Andrew Polydor, Global Head of Markets at TP ICAP, said: “This platform will provide our global client base with the trading infrastructure, connectivity, surveillance, and market standards they require as a minimum across traditional markets whilst also recognising the nuances of this new asset class. It leverages mature trading technology developed by our partners GMEX Technologies, to provide spot liquidity in digital assets as well as access to multiple custodians via a bespoke post-trade solution. These are key requirements for our institutional clients who want to be able to trade, invest and safely access this growing area of the market.”

Chris Tyrer, head of Fidelity Digital Assets in Europe, said: “Collaborating with industry leaders like TP ICAP to bring to market innovative solutions that strengthen the digital assets ecosystem is critical to enabling even more institutional participation. With this new infrastructure, we’re addressing one of the frictions in the investor experience that’s unique to this nascent asset class. Now, investors can more confidently execute trades knowing their assets remain still and secure in our custody.”

Maxime de Guillebon, Chief Executive Office of Zodia Custody said: “Zodia and TP ICAP share the same vision of the future of crypto asset investing. By combining liquidity with institutional-grade custody we will create an ecosystem that complements the expectations of institutional investors in terms of segregation of duties and asset safety. This infrastructure will enable operational efficiency and speed of transaction without compromising on security or reliability.”

Zodia Custody is a venture incubated by SC Ventures, the innovation arm of Standard Chartered.  Zodia combines the Banks’ expertise as trusted custodians with the agility of a fintech company to drive industry leadership and transformation.  Zodia is a cryptocurrency custodian serving institutional clients across the globe. Zodia is in the process of registering with the FCA under UK Money Laundering Regulations and expects to launch commercially in the second half of 2021.

Consumer warning on Binance Markets Limited and the Binance Group

Binance Markets Limited is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the UK. This firm is part of a wider Group (Binance Group).

Due to the imposition of requirements by the FCA, Binance Markets Limited is not currently permitted to undertake any regulated activities without the prior written consent of the FCA.

No other entity in the Binance Group holds any form of UK authorisation, registration or licence to conduct regulated activity in the UK.

The Binance Group appear to be offering UK customers a range of products and services via a website, Binance.com.

Investing in cryptoassets generally

Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptoasset or cryptoasset-related products.

Most firms advertising and selling investments in cryptoassets are not authorised by the FCA. This means that if you invest in certain cryptoassets you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.

While we don’t regulate cryptoassets like Bitcoin or Ether, we do regulate certain cryptoasset derivatives (such as futures contracts, contracts for difference and options), as well as those cryptoassets we would consider ‘securities’ – find out more information. A firm must be authorised by us to advertise or sell these products in the UK – check our Register to make sure the firm is authorised. You can also check our Warning List of firms to avoid.

You should do further research on the product you are considering and the firm you are considering investing with. Check with Companies House to see if the firm is registered as a UK company and for directors’ names. To see if others have posted any concerns, search online for the firm’s name, directors’ names and the product you are considering.

Always be wary if you are contacted out of the blue, pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.

FCA warns consumers of the risks of investments advertising high returns based on cryptoassets

The FCA is aware that some firms are offering investments in cryptoassets, or lending or investments linked to cryptoassets, that promise high returns. Investing in cryptoassets, or investments and lending linked to them, generally involves taking very high risks with investors’ money. If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money. 

As with all high-risk, speculative investments, consumers should make sure they understand what they’re investing in, the risks associated with investing, and any regulatory protections that apply.

For cryptoasset-related investments, consumers are unlikely to have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if something goes wrong. Consumers can find out more about which cryptoasset activities the FCA regulates in PS19/22: Guidance on Cryptoassets.

Consumers should be wary if they’re contacted out of the blue, pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true. Visit the FCA’s ScamSmart pages for more information on how consumers should protect themselves from fraud.

Firms offering these products should make sure they comply with all relevant regulatory requirements and are authorised by the FCA where this is required. Since 10 January 2021, all UK cryptoasset firms must be registered with the FCA under regulations to tackle money laundering. Operating without a registration is a criminal offence.

What are the risks?

The FCA’s concerns about high-return investments based on cryptoassets include:

  • Consumer protection: Some investments advertising high returns based on cryptoassets may not be subject to regulation beyond anti-money laundering requirements. 
  • Price volatility: Significant price volatility in cryptoassets, combined with the inherent difficulties of valuing cryptoassets reliably, places consumers at a high risk of losses.
  • Product complexity: The complexity of some products and services relating to cryptoassets can make it hard for consumers to understand the risks. There is no guarantee that cryptoassets can be converted back into cash. Converting a cryptoasset back to cash depends on demand and supply existing in the market. 
  • Charges and fees: Consumers should consider the impact of fees and charges on their investment which may be more than those for regulated investment products.  
  • Marketing materials: Firms may overstate the returns of products or understate the risks involved.

Consumers should be aware of the risks and fully consider whether investing in high-return investments based on cryptoassets is appropriate for them. They should check and carefully consider the cryptoasset business involved. 

What to do:

Step 1: Consumers should check if the firm they’re using is on the Financial Services Register or list of firms with Temporary Registration (Note: appearing on the Temporary Registration Register does not mean that the FCA has assessed them as fit and proper, nor that the FCA has determined their application for the purposes of the Money Laundering Regulations).

Step 2: If they’re not, consumers should ask the firm whether they are entitled to carry on business without being registered with the FCA. 

Step 3: If they’re not, the FCA suggests that consumers should withdraw their cryptoassets and/or money. This is because the firm is operating illegally if it has not ceased trading by 9 January 2021.

Visit the FCA’s Cryptoassets pages for more information.

FCA establishes Temporary Registration Regime for cryptoasset businesses

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has established a Temporary Registration Regime to allow existing cryptoasset firms, who have applied to be registered with the FCA, to continue trading. The FCA is advising customers of cryptoasset firms which should have applied to the FCA, but have not done so, to withdraw their cryptoassets or money before 10 January 2021. 

From 10 January 2020, the FCA became the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) supervisor for these types of firms, which includes firms that exchange money to and from cryptoassets and those that safeguard their customers’ cryptoassets. From this date, ‘existing cryptoasset businesses’ (ie firms operating immediately before 10 January 2020) have had to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations; such firms were required to be registered with the FCA by 10 January 2021.

New businesses (who began operating after 10 January 2020), are required to obtain full registration with the FCA before conducting business. 

The Temporary Registration Regime is for existing cryptoasset businesses which have applied for registration before 16 December 2020, and whose applications are still being assessed. This is to enable those existing businesses to continue to trade after 9 January 2021 until 9 July 2021, pending the FCA’s determination of their application.  

The FCA was not able to assess and register all firms that have applied for registration, due to the complexity and standard of the applications received, and the pandemic restricting the FCA’s ability to visit firms as planned.

Firms that did not submit an application by 15 December 2020 will not be eligible for the temporary registration regime. They will need to return cryptoassets to customers and stop trading by 10 January 2021. Firms that do not stop trading by that date are at risk of being subject to the FCA’s criminal and civil enforcement powers.

The FCA is advising consumers who deal with cryptoasset firms to:

  1. Check if the firm they use is on the FCA’s Register or list of firms with Temporary Registration
  2. If they are not, check whether they are entitled to carry on business without being registered with the FCA (this may apply if they are registered in a different country). 
  3. If the firm is not entitled to carry on business, then consumers should withdraw their cryptoassets and/or money before 10 January 2021. This is because the firm will be operating illegally if it does not cease trading from 10 January 2021. 

Many cryptoassets are highly speculative and can therefore lose value quickly. The FCA does not have consumer protection powers for the cryptoasset activities of firms. Even if a firm is registered with the FCA, we are not responsible for ensuring cryptoasset businesses protect client assets (ie customers’ money), among other things.  

It is unlikely that you will have access to The Financial Ombudsman or Financial Services Compensation Scheme, irrespective of whether a firm has temporary or full registration.

Notes to editors

  1. Since 10 January 2020, existing businesses (operating before 10 January 2020) carrying on cryptoasset activity in the UK have needed to be compliant with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, as amended and need to be registered with the FCA. 
  2. Find out more information about the FCA.