Cryptocurrency firms have been eagerly eyeing Hong Kong as a potential market, but their excitement hasn’t translated into in-country hires, according to recruitment executives. On June 1, around 150 companies lined up to obtain a local crypto license, with some reportedly spending up to $25 million to secure one.
Sue Wei, managing director of major recruitment firm Hays, stated that while crypto exchanges are keen on establishing a base in Hong Kong, the industry’s current recruitment needs are relatively light. However, she anticipates an increase in job openings as Web3 companies continue to develop and scale up.
Wei revealed that her firm has experienced a significant decrease in requests for recruiting technical talent since the crypto market dip. The mass layoffs in the industry made potential candidates hesitant due to the perceived instability of crypto businesses, which heavily rely on cryptocurrency prices.
Neil Dundon, founder of crypto recruitment agency Cryptorecruit, concurred with the observation that not much is happening in Hong Kong. He noted that venture activity remains extremely low, although there are signs of a bottoming out, which could lead to an upward trend.
Olga Yung, managing director of Michael Page Hong Kong, also observed that there hasn’t been a significant increase in job seekers interested in Web3 despite the government’s recent push. However, Yung did notice a slight uptick in Web3 firms seeking legal and compliance hires in the second quarter of 2023.
Looking ahead, Kevin Gibson, founder of Web3 recruitment firm Proof of Search, predicted that it might take around six months for crypto talent to flood into the region as companies await license approvals. Gibson explained that a significant number of specialist talents have left Hong Kong in recent years, resulting in a thin local talent pool. Consequently, companies setting up in Hong Kong may face an intense war for talent.
Furthermore, Gibson believes that the talent squeeze will continue until 2024, prompting Web3 companies to consider relocating their headquarters to more pro-crypto jurisdictions if things go as planned.
Recent demographic data for Hong Kong shows a negative population growth rate since 2020. Employment statistics for the first quarter of 2023 indicate a nearly 38% increase in job vacancies compared to the same period last year.
Olga Yung highlighted that the main challenge lies in attracting candidates interested in the crypto and Web3 sectors. Many potential applicants are risk-averse due to the current market sentiment.
On the other hand, Neil Tan, chair of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong, stated that he has met several individuals who recently switched from traditional finance (TradFi) to crypto. Tan noted that some candidates are directly approached by crypto firms, while others search for roles on platforms like LinkedIn. He added that the stability of TradFi is no longer as attractive as it once was, prompting more people to take a chance on the positive news surrounding the crypto and Web3 space in Hong Kong.