- Sources have specified that authorities will allow the trading of popular coins, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.
- Last week, the Director of Licensing at Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) teased that retail trading could return to the city.
Hong Kong is taking a softer stance towards cryptocurrencies and is currently looking to legalize retail crypto trading. The city has decided to embrace crypto as it tries to ensure recognition as one of the world’s major financial hubs.
Bloomberg reports that the city intends to begin in March by launching a licensing program mandatory for all interested crypto outfits. According to anonymous sources, the license allows these platforms to offer retail trading to the general public. So far, details of the city’s plans for crypto are still sketchy. However, these sources have specified that authorities will allow the trading of popular coins, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, without particularly supporting anyone. Specific details will be available after the government completes public consultation on the matter.
Reactions are already trailing the news, especially among people who believe that the city’s government could not ignore the sector and its swelling demand. According to crypto firm BC Technology Group Ltd.’s executive director Gary Tiu:
Introducing mandatory licensing in Hong Kong is just one of the important things regulators have to do. They can’t forever effectively close the needs of retail investors.
Last week, the Director of Licensing at Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) teased that retail trading could return to the city, contrasting with the government’s seeming hawkish stance towards crypto. During an event, Wong, who also heads the SFC’s fintech unit, said the city’s government was mulling a crypto regulation bill. She also said that it could allow interested people to “directly invest into virtual assets.”
Requirements for listing
Hong Kong’s crypto community expects the government to provide more details at a fintech conference scheduled to start on Monday. In addition to permitting retail trading, the community also expects specifics about the plan to turn Hong Kong into a major crypto hub.
Among other things, the government will probably introduce requirements to listing crypto assets on exchanges. Sources expect the criteria to include factors such as liquidity, market value, and relationship to third-party crypto indexes. The plan for a crypto hub might spur authorities to make the requirements easy to scale in the hopes that it would draw the desired amount of attention.
Hong Kong was a crypto leader in the Asian market until a licensing requirement forced companies to limit institutional access to clients with a minimum of HK$8 million ($1 million) in their portfolios.
China’s possible influence
Although Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China allowed to maintain economic and financial autonomy, there are worries that China’s near-total aggressiveness towards crypto could be a problem. Last year, China banned all crypto activities and has sustained this ban despite protests from the community.
According to BitMex co-founder Arthur Hayes, the success of crypto endeavors in Hong Kong still largely depends on China. In a recent blog post, Hayes wrote:
As crypto investors, we care about Hong Kong’s ability to facilitate Chinese capital’s needs. Whether it is in retail sales or capital flows, it is the ordinary wealthy Chinese people that power the Hong Kong economy.
Hayes also says Beijing could change its opinion and “rescind all these positive crypto policies”. Nevertheless, Hayes is optimistic that Hong Kong allowing crypto will solve critical problems for China.