Digital Money Platform Wirex Receives UK FCA E-Money Licence

News and Analysis

Cryptocurrencies – those in the know are abuzz with excitement, and those who have a just a passing interest immediately paint the industry with the same brush as pyramid schemes or bubbles. So, when a digital money platform that offers both fiat and cryptocurrency services is awarded an FCA licence – people take notice.

Wirex is now the third crypto/fiat payment platform to have earned a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) e-money licence – a boon for both the company and consumers who want to dip their toes in the cryptocurrency waters in a safe and regulated environment.

Two other licenses were granted earlier this year to Coinbase and Circle.

“London is one of the world’s leading financial hubs and the FCA is one of the most stringent regulators in Europe,” says Wirex co-founder Pavel Matveev, “so this is an important step for Wirex. 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.”

Matveev says the company sought the licence to improve and refine its e-money services throughout the European Economic Area (EEA).

“Holding our own licence, as opposed to acting as an agent of an FCA-authorised principal, means increased efficiency and lower costs.”

Wirex is a platform that allows users to store, buy, sell and transfer both digital (crypto) and fiat currencies, and exchange seamlessly between the two – on one open platform. The company has a four-year track record, serving 1.7 million customers in 130 countries who have collectively made more than $2 billion in transactions.

Much of the misunderstanding around cryptocurrencies lies in the confusion between the currencies themselves, and blockchain, says Matveev. Many conflate the two, when in fact blockchain is not a cryptocurrency, but the technology protocol that that underpins them. Blockchain provides an extremely secure transactional and storage solution for data and almost anything of value – its defining feature is the layers of encryption built into the system and the ability to decentralise the control of information.

Information held on a blockchain is continuously updated and shared with every user on that blockchain’s network. It’s transparent, decentralised, and the data it stores is easily verifiable, so it’s almost impossible to hack. It’s so secure, that blockchain is widely believed to become the database storage protocol of the future.

Yet, from time to time there are reports about hacks, and the panic about crypto rises again.

“Cryptos are not the issue here, nor blockchain,” Matveev explains. “Hacks don’t occur on the blockchain itself – they occur in wallets that are stored online, which are known as hot wallets.”

Simply put, hot wallets are connected to the Internet somewhere, while cold wallets are not. Hackers can’t steal digital assets in cold wallets. However, the integrity of hot wallets depends on the security habits of individuals and third parties which makes them vulnerable to theft.

Nevertheless, security is always a concern when it comes to both traditional and digital currency.

“Wirex has operates rigorous security, including PCI-DSS Level 1 certification – the highest standard within the payments industry – and our cards are enrolled in Visa’s 3-D Secure scheme. To protect all online transactions from unauthenticated payments and fraud, accounts are secured with two-factor authentication and our cold (offline) multi-signature storage makes funds less vulnerable to hacking,” Matveev says.

He also noted that there are about 2000 initial coin offerings (ICOs) available in the cryptocurrency market, however Wirex distances themselves from the ICO market as they are not an ICO company. Many ICO companies are fraudulent and do not deliver legitimate products. Matveev advises consumers to tread cautiously when considering investing in cryptocurrencies in the hopes of making a quick profit. He says consumers also need to differentiate between ICOs who are simply looking for funding and established companies that have legitimate products and services in the crypto space.

Wirex offers their clients 6 wallets, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, XRP (Ripple), USD, GBP and Euros, with Ethereum coming soon. Clients can seamlessly exchange these currencies on the Wirex platform and convert their cryptos to fiat to spend instantly via their Wirex Visa card (available in EEA with other regions coming online soon)

“The FCA licence is means consumers can rest assured that they’re dealing with a regulated, reputable company that has proven itself in the cryptocurrency arena. The licence will allow Wirex to better serve its customers, with less reliance on third parties. We can now provide a faster, more responsive service to our customers, as well as lower exchange rates across all services,” said Matveev, adding that the licence helps to maintain the stability of the financial services industry and promote healthy competition between financial services providers.

“Finally, it provides our clients with the assurance that Wirex will provide them with a best-in-class platform and accompanying service.”

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