Asia Express – Cointelegraph Magazine

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Final deadline for crypto exchange registration in Hong Kong

Crypto exchanges that wish to do business in Hong Kong must apply for a license with the Securities and Futures Commission’s virtual asset trading platform regime by February 29. 

As of the deadline date, 22 crypto exchanges currently have pending VATP applications with the SFC, including OKX, Bybit, Huobi HK, Gate.HK and the Binance-affiliated HKVAX.

“All VATP applicants on this list are NOT licensed or regulated by the SFC, and may NOT be in compliance with the SFC’s requirements,” the regulator states in an update on its website. “The purpose of this list is to enable any member of the public to ascertain whether a virtual asset trading platform has made untrue or misleading misrepresentations regarding its license application status with the SFC.”

Exchanges that have not filed a VATP application must exit the Hong Kong market by May 31. Since the city opened doors for retail crypto trading in June 2023, four exchanges have had their applications withdrawn or returned. Likewise, exchanges with VATP applications rejected by the SFC must also leave the city within three months. Currently, the only SFC-approved exchanges in Hong Kong are OSL and HashKey. 

Cointelegraph reported in 2023 that Web3 firms are spending as much as $25 million on the necessary infrastructure and regulatory compliance for a Hong Kong VATP license. In addition to separation of funds requirements, exchange applicants must provide at least 50% insurance for customers’ assets and undergo regular audits of their financial statements. 

Despite regulatory requirements, however, unlicensed exchanges remain a problem in Hong Kong. In 2023, JPEX and Hounax — two of the largest crypto exchanges in Hong Kong — collapsed after allegations of Ponzi scheme operations surfaced. An estimated $180 million of investors’ money was lost in the…


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