Further to update on His Majesty’s Treasury (HMT’s) revised approach to the cryptoasset financial promotions regime, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now published an update reminding cryptoasset firms to prepare for the changes.
The route to approve a financial promotion – whether a UK-registered or overseas firm – are set out as below.
“Subject to Parliamentary approval, when the regime comes into force, there will be four routes to communicating cryptoasset promotions to UK consumers:
- The promotion is communicated by an FCA-authorized person.
- The promotion is made by an unauthorized person but approved by an FCA-authorized person. Legislation is currently making its way through Parliament which, if made, would introduce a regulatory gateway that authorized firms will need to pass through in order to approve financial promotions for unauthorized persons.
- The promotion is communicated by a cryptoasset business registered under the MLRs with the FCA.
- The promotion otherwise complies with the conditions of an exemption in the Financial Promotion Order.”
Route three above would be the typical method for a UK-registered crypto firm to approve a promotion.
Cryptoasset firms that are already registered under the MLRs will be able to communicate their own financial promotions for cryptoassets, subject to complying with the conditions of the exemption and the relevant FCA rules.
They will not have to apply for any further permissions to communicate their own promotions.
In line with existing restrictions to the Financial and Services and Markets Act (FSMA), financial promotions that are not made using one of these routes will be in breach of Section 21 of the legislation. This is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
We recommend that firms seeking FCA registration have a clearly documented process for approving a financial promotion, and an identified responsible person for oversight and control of this process.
Existing UK-registered crypto firms should also take a similar approach to documenting their process and allocate responsibility.
The FCA clarifies that it will assess as part of its “fit and proper” assessment:
- When making a fit and proper assessment, the FCA will consider not only the fit and proper nature of the persons responsible for running the firm, but also the financial promotions associated with that firm.
- The company should be able to meet its requirements at the point of application (i.e. systems controls and an identified responsible person).
- As part of this assessment, the FCA will also consider whether the company is carrying on “business in the UK”. The strict obligations have not changed, but because the assessment now includes the activity of approving financial promotions, the regulator may set a higher standard for requiring firms to be established in the UK to ensure supervisory oversight.
The FCA website provides help with the registration process and feedback on good and poor quality applications.