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The Big Take

London’s Fintech Boom Opens the Door for Dirty Money

Among the more than 200 electronic money institutions licensed in the U.K. are ones with executives or shareholders tied to alleged financial wrongdoing.

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The headquarters of the Financial Conduct Authority in London.

The headquarters of the Financial Conduct Authority in London.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

A 10-minute walk from the Bank of England, on the eastern edge of the City of London, lies a gateway to a new shadow world of money.

Here on Dukes Place is the office of Moorwand Ltd., one of a fast-growing breed of upstarts that bill themselves as alternatives to old-fashioned banks when moving money around the world. Each day in the U.K. alone, an estimated 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) courses through loosely regulated digital payments businesses like Moorwand. Though only a small fraction of Britain’s financial flows, it’s a system critics warn is opening a door for dirty money.