Crypto exchange Kraken’s UK boss Blair Halliday expects a clear regulatory regime in the UK by next year, but says some firms will still struggle to meet the requirements.
Halliday said the UK has made a lot of progress on crypto rules, and needs to continue in the same direction.
“The UK government is pro-crypto. They are open to discussions,” Halliday told Financial News. “The Treasury is engaging, the Financial Conduct Authority is engaging. We will see a comprehensive regulatory regime in the UK by 2024 similar to MiCA[Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation] in Europe.”
But Halliday said that even with clear regulations, some crypto firms will struggle to comply with all the requirements imposed on them.
“Regulation doesn’t make your life easier. It provides a bar or a standard that must be hit. It provides a set of requirements. During the crypto asset registration process, some firms were really surprised by the FCA requirements. We can expect companies to struggle when we have clear crypto regulations in the UK,” Halliday said.
In November 2021, Kraken received FCA authorisation, one of just 42 to have made it through the watchdog’s net, which currently only extends to money laundering checks. More than 300 have applied since the FCA began vetting digital asset firms in January 2020.
The UK government is currently consulting on a stronger regime for both crypto trading platforms and crypto lending. The consultation closed in April, with no further timeframes given.
Kraken has another subsidiary in the UK, Crypto Facilities, which offers trading services to institutional clients.
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Kraken, the world’s third-largest exchange by trading volume, has roughly 275 employees in the UK.
“We have a substantial presence in the UK with 10% of the global workforce,” Halliday said.
Halliday, who previously worked at NatWest for over 14 years, said a migration of talent is continuing from traditional finance to crypto.
“The talent from traditional finance and fintech works really well in crypto because they understand the regulatory requirements,” he said.
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“UK is very rich in crypto talent. We will continue to hire UK people for roles that are global in nature. Crypto talent is not just coming from London. I’m very pro-London, but we are seeing talent coming from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester as well,” Halliday added.
Kraken is currently hiring for dozens of UK-based roles in compliance, engineering, and product management, according to the firm’s website and LinkedIn account.
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