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Hong Kong to Introduce New Crypto Licensing Regime

  • Hong Kong is set to introduce a new licensing regime for cryptocurrency businesses, in a move that could help to legitimize the industry and attract more investors 

  • The new regulations will provide a comprehensive framework for the regulation of virtual asset activities, including the licensing of virtual asset service providers

  • The new regime is expected to bring greater transparency and accountability to the cryptocurrency sector, while also providing enhanced consumer protection

Hong Kong to Introdu

Regulatory Guidelines being Implemented Concerning Digital Asset Business In Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a public consultation to consider the potential of allowing licensed cryptocurrency exchanges to serve retail investors.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong is calling for public feedback on its newly proposed licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges, which is set to take effect in June 2023. The consultation window will focus on two important issues: whether regulated exchanges should be allowed to service ordinary investors in the nation, and what policies should be put in place to ensure effective investor protection.

On February 20th, the SFC announced the consultation process, outlining a new licensing regime for the industry that requires all centralized cryptocurrency trading platforms operating in Hong Kong to be licensed with the regulatory body. 

The proposed regulatory guidelines are based on existing requirements for licensed securities brokers and automated trading venues, with modifications made to some of the existing prerequisites.

Julia Leung, CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), highlighted the recent turbulence in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and the collapse of industry players such as FTX as a primary impetus for the need for clear regulatory guidelines for the industry, with investor protection at the forefront of their considerations. She stated :

“We have been committed to the 'same business, same risks, same rules' principle since 2018, and our proposed requirements for virtual asset trading platforms reflect this, with robust measures in place to safeguard investors.”

Each individual or company offering services related to cryptocurrencies is required, according to the notice, to seek a licence from the SFC. Furthermore, cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers must comply with a number of stringent requirements, including asset safekeeping, Know Your Customer, conflicts of interest, cybersecurity, accounting and auditing, risk management, anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism, and market misconduct prevention.

Businesses that intend to remain operational and apply for a license are strongly urged to review and revise their existing systems and controls to ensure compliance with the upcoming regulatory regime. Exchanges and service providers that do not plan to apply for a license must prepare to cease their operations in Hong Kong.

The SFC also intends to publish and maintain a list of licensed cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers to inform the public of the registration statuses of different firms.

As previously reported in reports, Hong Kong-based financial service providers had begun to enquire about licensing requirements after an amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance in December 2022. This amendment has made it mandatory for all cryptocurrency-related businesses to obtain a license from the SFC in order to continue operating in Hong Kong.

Also, Read - Another Crack in the Crypto, Galois Capital Shuts Down Due to Lost Funds in FTX Fall

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