The Hong Kong Securities Futures Commission (SFC) is set to release guidelines for cryptocurrency exchange licensing in May, as it moves to support trading services to retail investors from June 1. According to Bloomberg, the plans were confirmed by the SFC’s CEO, Julia Leung, who revealed that over 150 interested parties had provided feedback during the consultation process on the licensing regime.
The upcoming guidelines will likely include regulatory requirements for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Client (KYC) measures, among other considerations. A February 20 report by the SFC also highlighted these factors as important for regulating virtual assets.
While most prospective Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) licensees are still awaiting confirmation, some trading platforms have already received licenses from the SFC. Among them are OSL and Hashkey Group, according to Reuters.
However, not all trading platforms have chosen to stay in Hong Kong amid its ambitions to become a major crypto hub. Bitget, which boasts $1.4 trillion in assets in reserve, announced on April 24 that it would cease offering services to its Hong Kong customers when the VASP regime takes effect on June 1.
Despite this setback, the release of the licensing guidelines is expected to bring further clarity and regulation to the Hong Kong crypto market, while also providing a framework for legitimate trading platforms to operate under. This could help to boost investor confidence in the sector and support the city’s wider efforts to establish itself as a leading hub for digital assets and blockchain technology.
Hong Kong has already made significant strides in this area, with its Securities and Futures Commission becoming one of the first regulators to issue guidance on digital asset fund managers in November 2018. The city has also played host to a number of high-profile crypto events in recent years, including the Token2049 conference, which attracts blockchain industry leaders from around the world.
Despite this progress, however, Hong Kong still faces stiff competition from other global crypto hubs, such as Singapore and Switzerland. By introducing clear licensing guidelines and regulatory requirements for crypto trading platforms, the SFC may be able to help Hong Kong strengthen its position in this increasingly competitive field.