Crypto exchange Binance to halt sterling transfers
LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Binance is halting its sterling deposits and withdrawals, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday, a month after the world's largest crypto exchange ceased dollar transfers.
Binance has been informed by its partner for sterling transfers, Paysafe, that it would halt its services from May 22, the spokesperson said, impacting all Binance customers.
Sterling transfers for new users were stopped on Monday, it said.
"Binance will ensure that affected users are still able to access their GBP balances," the spokesperson said, adding that the change "affects less than 1% of Binance users."
Binance, which has more than 128 million customers, did not give details on the number of clients the move would impact. The company is working to find an "alternative solution" for sterling transfers, the spokesperson said.
The cessation of sterling transfers, first reported by crypto news outlet The Block, is the latest obstacle for Binance in accessing traditional currencies. Binance last month suspended all dollar bank transfers amid a growing crackdown on crypto by U.S. authorities.
The Justice Department is also investigating Binance, run by billionaire CEO Changpeng Zhao, for suspected money laundering and sanctions violations, Reuters has previously reported. A top Binance executive told The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg last month that Binance expected to pay penalties to resolve U.S. investigations into the company.
A further hindrance for Binance in accessing dollars came after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission told the company which issued its "BUSD" stablecoin it was considering taking action against it. The move sparked around $6 billion in outflows as of earlier this month.
The importance of sterling funding to Binance is unclear. The company does not make public its finances, with the core of the business – the giant Binance.com exchange - mostly hidden from public view.
Paysafe did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. The company offers the service via UK payments network Faster Payments, which also had no immediate comment.
A spokesperson for Skrill, the Paysafe unit that works with Binance, told crypto website Decrypt that "the UK regulatory environment in relation to crypto is too challenging to offer this service at this time and so this is a prudent decision on our part taken in an abundance of caution."
Britain's financial watchdog said last year that it lacked powers to stop Binance from accessing the Faster Payments network via Paysafe.
The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warned consumers in June 2021 that Binance did not hold "any form" of permission to offer services regulated by Britain.
The FCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.