While the US government continues to impose more laws on the crypto business, other locations are emerging as new virtual asset hubs. Hong Kong proposed laws on Monday that would allow ordinary investors to trade some “large-cap tokens” on approved exchanges, in sharp contrast to mainland China across the border, where crypto-related activities are completely prohibited.
The city’s Securities and Futures Commission did not specify which huge tokens would be permitted, but a representative for the regulatory agency said they would most likely be Bitcoin and Ether, two of the most valuable digital assets in terms of market capitalisation.
Following China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency trading, the country’s web3 startups have mainly abandoned their home market in favour of expanding abroad. Some of the more astute have chosen to establish new operations in friendlier locales like as Singapore and Dubai, while they often keep developers in China to exploit the country’s enormous pool of affordable tech expertise.
With the advent of a more relaxed legal environment for cryptocurrencies in Hong Kong, some of these Chinese-founded web3 enterprises in exile may return and be closer to home.
With the recent spate of bankruptcies and layoffs in the worldwide crypto business, China’s crackdown on crypto trading to safeguard private investors from speculative behaviour appears foresighted. Despite the bitcoin bubble’s demise, money and talent continue to come into web3. It’s difficult to envision Beijing sitting quiet while the rest of the world works on the building blocks that some claim will unleash a new wave of creativity as large as the current internet.
Hong Kong, historically a financial centre, has the potential to be a laboratory for China’s regulators to explore blockchain’s possibilities while providing some protection for the country’s one billion netizens.
The Hong Kong plan requires all centralised virtual currency exchanges operating in the city or marketing services to investors in the territory to get licences from the securities and futures authority. The standards “include critical areas such as asset safe custody, know-your-client, conflicts of interest, cybersecurity, accounting and auditing, risk management, anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism, and market misconduct,” according to the release.
“Aside from assuring suitability in client onboarding and token admittance, the other important ideas include token due diligence, governance, and disclosures.”
In other words, centralised cryptocurrency exchanges must prohibit the use of Hong Kong IP addresses until they receive the necessary licences to operate there.
The regulatory requirements are accessible for public comment through March 31, and the new licencing regime will go into effect on June 1.