Hong Kong: Pivoting to Legalize Retail Crypto Trading and Grow the Ecosystem

BNN Bloomberg | John Cheng, Zheping Huang and Kiuyan Wong | Oct 27, 2022

Hong Kong is pivoting toward a friendlier regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies with a plan to legalize retail trading, contrasting with the city’s skeptical stance of recent years and the ban in place in mainland China.

A planned mandatory licensing program for crypto platforms set to be enforced in March next year will allow retail trading.

The government is expected to flesh out its recently stated goal of creating a top crypto hub at a fintech conference starting Monday. The push comes amid a broader drive to restore Hong Kong’s credentials as a finance center after years of political turmoil and Covid curbs sparked a talent exodus.

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The upcoming regime for listing tokens on retail exchanges is likely to include criteria such as their market value, liquidity and membership of third-party crypto indexes, the people familiar said. That’s similar to the approach for structured products such as warrants, they added.

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Michel Lee, executive president of digital-asset specialist HashKey Group:

Hong Kong has actually been trying to frame an all-encompassing crypto regime going beyond retail token trading.  Just trading digital assets on its own is not the goal,” Lee said. “The goal is really to grow the ecosystem

[He cited tokenized versions of stocks and bonds as a potentially more important segment in future]

Questions remain as to whether Hong Kong’s plan to woo crypto entrepreneurs back is too little, too late. For instance, it remains unclear if mainland Chinese investors would be able to trade in tokens via Hong Kong.

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