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Exclusive: Ramp, a PayPal for crypto, becomes only the 8th crypto firm to win approval from the UK’s financial regulator

  • A startup that dubs itself the “PayPal of crypto” has just landed regulatory approval.
  • The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has listed London-based Ramp as a cryptoasset firm.
  • The watchdog has already ruled out a high volume of startups for not meeting regulations.

A startup that bills itself as the “PayPal of crypto” has secured rare regulatory approval from the UK’s financial watchdog.

Ramp, which enables customers to pay for products or services on a site or app with digital currency, became the eighth company to be placed on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) list of registered cryptoasset firms in July.

The financial regulator has been slow to accept crypto firms into the British financial system. The watchdog issued a consumer warning on crypto exchange Binance in June, meaning it cannot conduct any regulated activity in the UK, and a warning against crypto firm Coinburp in July.

London-based Ramp aims to solve the problem of crypto being “intimidating and hard to use.” Websites can integrate its tool, allowing customers to pay online with crypto. Typically customers would have to go to the likes of Coinbase or another digital wallet before returning to the original site to pay. Ramp argues this leads to dropoffs during the selling stage due to the increased friction.

Szymon Sypniewicz, Ramp cofounder and chief executive, said securing registration from the FCA was its “number one priority” and that most of the company’s resources were shifted toward securing it.

“This is something very valuable and we can see more and more regulations coming in, so we feel this is only the beginning,” he told Insider.

“There is no escape, so we were better to focus on that and make sure our skills and know how are best in class. You can only do it by solving problems and not trying to run away from them.”

In June, the Financial Times reported that the FCA had warned a “high” number of crypto businesses they were not meeting anti-money laundering standards.

Crypto companies have until March 2022 to become fully-registered with the FCA, otherwise they will be deemed to be operating illegally. The authority’s checks largely focus on money laundering regulations.

Sypniewicz said he had been “super impressed” with the FCA’s evaluation of his business, and said the regulator’s probing went “much deeper than buzzwords.”

The startup has raised $11 million to date and counts UiPath-, Revolut-, and Hopin-backer Seedcamp among its investors. Taavet Hinrikus, cofounder of payments firm Wise, and former Coinbase chief technology officer Balaji S. Srinivasan are angel investors in the startup.

Ramp is also targeting a significant expansion into the US.

The startup, which was founded in 2017, has partnered with companies like Mozilla and Dapper Labs, the company behind “NBA Top Shot.”

Sypniewicz also said that the FCA’s action on Binance was a “warning” to the rest of the crypto industry that further regulation was on the way.

“I would say the first wave of regulatory action was about AML and the movement of money,” he said.

“The second one was about securities and financial instruments. Right now, I believe we can see the very beginning of regulatory action around consumer protection and I think we’ll see more of that.”

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