Hong Kong asserts rigorous crypto regulations amid market evolution



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Hong Kong has reaffirmed its commitment to creating strict and comprehensive crypto regulation to strengthen investor protection and tackle financial crimes.

In a Feb. 2 blog post, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, reiterated the special administrative region’s banner of “same activity, same risk, same regulation,” under which Hong Kong crafted a licensing regime for virtual asset service providers (VASP).

In his post, Mr. Hui pointed out that VASPs that had been active in Hong Kong before the implementation of the new licensing system had been granted a transitional period intended to support them in adapting to the regulatory framework.

However, to maintain their operations beyond the transition, Hong Kong financial authorities require these service providers to file their licensing applications by Feb. 29, with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) gearing up to clear the field of unqualified players with “no-deeming notices.” 

Additionally, the commission will enforce a May 31 cease-operation deadline for non-compliant entities. Moreover, Mr. Hui spoke about the need to regulate over-the-counter venues, which were instrumental in some of last year’s fraud cases involving unlicensed crypto platforms.

We believe that it is necessary to bring OTC venues under regulation, and we will launch a consultation very soon on the proposed regulatory framework.

Christopher Hui, Hong Kong Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

Amidst the regulatory revamp, Mr. Hui urged investors to remain cautious of VAs’ intrinsic value volatility and restrict their transactions to SFC-licensed platforms to avoid potential fraud.

Hong Kong recently greenlighted select platforms to offer Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) trading to retail investors. This move comes with stringent oversight from the SFC.

Reports suggest that up to ten firms are considering such investment products, with around half already advancing, and may be ready to debut the region’s first spot crypto ETFs within the next few months.

Certified Hong Kong crypto exchange HashKey has confirmed ongoing discussions with asset managers to potentially unveil spot crypto ETFs, fueling speculation that Bitcoin spot ETFs could emerge by the first quarter of 2024.

Asset manager Harvest Fund Management’s Hong Kong operations have also reportedly initiated the process of launching a pioneering BTC ETF, having reportedly approached the SFC with a formal application.

Despite shared borders with China, Hong Kong continues asserting its distinctive legal system and is carving a unique position in cryptocurrency.



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