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UK boss of Winklevoss crypto exchange Gemini says ad rules need rethink

Blair Halliday, UK head for Gemini, says current proposals from the Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority could hurt the nascent industry

<p>Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss</p>

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

/ Getty Images
By @OscarWGrut
04 February 2022

he UK boss of Gemini, the cryptocurrency business set-up by the billionaire Winklevoss twins, has claimed new regulations risk driving British crypto investors to unregulated exchanged offshore.

Blair Halliday said proposals from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Treasury to crackdown on crypto ads by bringing them under the remit of regulators were too strict.

The new proposals mean firms will have to get adverts approved by a fully regulated business, meaning most crypto companies will be relying on a competitor for help. Halliday said this was unlikely to work in practice and could hamstring the industry.

An “unintended consequence” could be to drive Brits towards unregulated overseas platforms that are beyond the reach of regulators.

“More and more people are getting into crypto,” Halliday said. “We’ve got a market here that is growing enormously, we shouldn’t be looking to bar that entry.”

The Treasury argues the new rules will stamp out “misleading” ads and help protect consumers. The FCA has concerns about poor levels of understanding of the products and wants to ensure all adverts carry appropriate warnings about risks.

Halliday said Gemini “embraces regulation” but it should be “proportionate.”

A high regulatory barrier could discourage businesses from setting up business here, he said.

Last month former chancellor Lord Philip Hammond, now an advisor to London-based crypto business Copper, said the UK was “behind the curve” when it came to the industry. Around the same time former health secretary Matt Hancock urged the government to embrace the “extraordinary growth of cryptocurrencies” in a statement delivered in the House of Commons.

Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini was founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in 2014. It launched in the UK in 2020 and is currently sponsor of the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

The Winklevoss twins, former Olympic rowers, are known for suing Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg claiming he stole their idea and for becoming the world’s first bitcoin billionaires after investing early in the cryptocurrency. The pair have an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion, according to Forbes.