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‘No other options’: Hong Kong moving forward with crypto licensing, FinTech chair says

Crypto-friendly The head of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK) asserts that despite other jurisdictions “taking a step back,” Hong Kong is still enthusiastic about granting its citizens access to crypto trading.

At the Hong Kong WOW Summit in March, FTAHK chair Neil Tan told Cointelegraph that while Singapore and the US appear to be moving away from allowing crypto retail trading, “Hong Kong is stepping forward.”

A licensing system for cryptocurrency exchanges will go into effect on June 1 and, according to Tan, “going to also include retail.” It’s anticipated that the licensing guidelines will be made public in May. “Participants will come if [crypto] is accessible in a legal and regulated manner. There aren’t any other options, so it’s a case of “build it, and they will come.” The options are decreasing.

In February, the region’s securities regulator proposed a licensing regime for Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) that would permit retail traders access to authorized crypto platforms. It was mentioned that restricting access might drive traders to unregulated foreign platforms. These platforms can only currently accommodate accredited professional investors.

Retail traders would be restricted to “highly liquid” digital assets, Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) CEO Julia Leung Fung-yee stated in January, without providing additional information.

In addition to offering what many believe to be an appealing legal framework for cryptocurrencies, Hong Kong is putting a lot of effort into luring talent and infrastructure providers, or what Tan called “the back end.”

He continued by saying that the governments of China and Hong Kong are both aware of the opportunities in the area and are acting to support inbound talent. Regarding China, Tan noted that “a lot of talent across the border and there is currently a fair amount of unemployment.” “A lot of talent is able to enter Hong Kong, coming from Big Tech and other places.”

Tan said that for Hong Kong to become a hub for virtual assets, the infrastructure supporting cryptocurrencies must also be in place. “That infrastructure comes with the platforms when they arrive. They also bring the necessary infrastructure to deliver the product, he continued.

He continued that the expansion of the financial sector to include digital assets was “just a natural progression” as cryptocurrencies “become a little bit more prominent.”

“People are incorporating [crypto] into their investment portfolios. Everyone is looking at their portfolios and trying to get that type of exposure, whether you’re talking about institutional, high net worth, or retail investors.

 

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