This is not a restrictive measure or a sanction but only a warning.
However, what is stated in the warning does not leave much room for interpretation:
“We believe this firm has been providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation. Find out why to be especially wary of dealing with this unauthorised firm and how to protect yourself from scammers”.
The main point would, therefore, be the alleged lack of permission on the part of BitMEX to promote or sell financial services or products in the UK.
These notices are usually very direct, so it is plausible that the FCA believes that the exchange does not have all the necessary permissions to operate.
To avoid any misunderstanding, the notice also contains the following information:
“This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation”.
The FCA adds that almost all companies that offer, promote or sell financial services or products in the UK must be authorized by them and that, among those that act without such authorization, there are some that may even knowingly engage in investment fraud.
However, it is not clear which authorizations BitMEX would lack or which financial products or services they are providing without the necessary licenses.
In 2018, the FCA stated that companies offering crypto derivatives, like those of BitMEX, probably need a specific authorization, because such products may be financial instruments as defined in the UK directives.
In addition, the sale of such derivatives to retail investors would be prohibited because they are considered to be unable to reliably assess the value and risks of derivatives or ETN that involve certain cryptocurrencies.
There is no confirmation from either the FCA or BitMEX, but the hypothesis that is circulating is that the problem lies in the lack of the necessary authorizations to sell crypto derivatives, however, there are no other details in this respect.