UK regulator appoints new digital assets director to oversee crypto

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has appointed the director of the multi-agency National Economic Crime Command (NECC) as its new director of payments and digital assets.

The regulator announced the appointment of Matthew Long in a release on Tuesday, amid a raft of other senior moves. The role is newly-created and will oversee e-money, payment and crypto-asset markets and lead related policy development.

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The regulator put out a search for a crypto head in mid-March as pressure mounted ahead of its deadline for granting firms anti-money laundering licenses, which would allow them to continue operating in the UK. In April, it appointed Victoria McLoughlin as its interim head of digital assets.

The complicated and protracted process for granting licenses has meant that some firms, including marketmaker and BCB Group, have opted to seek regulatory approval elsewhere.

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Long will join the FCA in October. His previous remit included tackling economic crime and illicit finance, including leading responses to organised immigration crime, modern slavery, human trafficking, drugs, firearms and borders.

He also led the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) which has national responsibility for receiving, analysing and disseminating financial intelligence submitted through the Suspicious Activity Reports Regime. Prior to that role, Long had a career in the police.

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