Hong Kong Retail Investors Can Trade Bitcoin starting June 1st

Hong Kong Retail Investors Can Trade Bitcoin starting June 1st as New Virtual-Assets Regime Launches.

Hong Kong Retail Investors Can Trade Bitcoin Starting June 1st as the city’s new virtual-assets regime comes into effect, according to the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). In a significant move towards establishing itself as a global Web3 hub, Hong Kong has finalized rules that permit licensed exchanges to sell popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether to retail investors. The SFC’s decision aligns with the city’s ambitions, even as other governments express growing concerns over virtual assets.

As announced by the regulator on Tuesday, the SFC has successfully concluded the formulation of rules that enable retail trading of cryptocurrencies in Hong Kong. These rules, as previously outlined during a consultation launched in February, authorize licensed exchanges to offer cryptocurrencies with large market capitalization and high liquidity to retail investors. This development paves the way for interested platforms to apply for a license starting June 1. In the absence of such plans, the SFC advises businesses to initiate an orderly closure of their operations in Hong Kong, emphasizing the significance of compliance.

During a press briefing, the SFC clarified that it has not yet approved any cryptocurrency trading platforms for retail investors. However, the regulator expects licensed firms to commence retail trading activities in the second half of this year. Notably, as part of the new regulations, any form of advertising for unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges will be deemed a criminal offense, including promotions by key opinion leaders associated with such platforms. Additionally, the law will prohibit the use of fraudulent or reckless methods to induce the acquisition of virtual assets.

The introduction of Hong Kong’s new regulatory framework reflects its commitment to becoming a global Web3 hub, even in the face of increasing skepticism from other governments regarding virtual assets. To prevent the industry’s tumultuous events witnessed in the previous year, city officials have pledged to establish robust safeguards. Eddie Yue Wai-man, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), affirmed the stringent nature of the forthcoming regulations during the Bloomberg Wealth Asia Summit. While fostering an environment conducive to innovation and ecosystem development, Hong Kong remains steadfast in implementing vigilant oversight.

Yue emphasized that should any participants find the regulations excessively stringent, they are free to explore other jurisdictions. Licensed virtual-asset platforms in Hong Kong will be subject to comprehensive requirements encompassing asset safekeeping, segregation of client assets, conflict of interest avoidance, and cybersecurity standards. Exchanges are expected to holistically evaluate an investor’s comprehension of virtual assets’ nature and risks, assess risk tolerance, and implement exposure limits. Moreover, licensed platforms must establish a “token admission and review committee” responsible for overseeing the cryptocurrency tokens they offer. The SFC stipulates that tokens available to retail investors should be included in a minimum of two acceptable and investible indices from independent providers, including one with expertise in traditional finance.

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