Hong Kong is set to introduce a new regulatory framework targeting over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading platforms. This initiative, announced by the region’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB), underscores Hong Kong’s commitment to ensuring a “transparent” digital asset marketplace.
The local government’s impending publication of this regulatory consultation represents a critical step in addressing the risks associated with OTC crypto venues, which have become increasingly accessible to the general public, according to the announcement.
Proposal To Regulate OTC Venture
Christopher Hui, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury emphasized the necessity of this regulation in the announcement. His concern stems from OTC venues‘ role in several fraud cases involving unlicensed virtual asset (VA) trading platforms. Hui noted:
In fact, OTC venues have played a certain role in some of the fraud cases involving some unlicensed VA trading platforms last year, having misled investors to channel funds to these unlicensed platforms.
This issue highlights the growing need for regulatory oversight in an area that, until now, has operated with minimal supervision. The proposed framework aims to safeguard crypto investors by ensuring these platforms operate in a “regulated and monitored” environment. Hui explained:
Therefore, we believe that it is necessary to bring OTC venues under regulation, and we will launch a consultation very soon on the proposed regulatory framework.
The imminent consultation by Hong Kong’s financial authorities aims to bring these OTC venues under a “comprehensive” regulatory regime. This move is expected to align the operations of these platforms with global best practices, ensuring that they provide “safe and fair” trading environments for their users.
Hong Kong’s Progressive Steps In Crypto Regulation
This regulatory development in Hong Kong comes six months after the region’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) took proactive steps to integrate retail investors safely into the crypto market. This step included upgrading HashKey, a local exchange, to offer regulated crypto services to retail investors under newly established guidelines.
Moreover, Hong Kong contemplated allowing individual investors to participate in spot Crypto ETFs late last year. This move, part of strategic initiatives to establish the city as a leading digital asset hub in the Asia-Pacific region, was later realized when the authorities announced their readiness to accept applications for spot crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The SFC and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority jointly published circulars laying the groundwork for this significant development. Interestingly, this decision followed shortly after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved several spot BTC ETF applications.
Harvest Fund Hong Kong, a major fund company in China, has already applied to a Bitcoin spot ETF to the Hong Kong SFC, marking a pivotal moment in the region’s financial landscape. The SFC is reportedly considering expediting the approval process for this spot ETF, with plans for a potential listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange soon after the Chinese New Year.
Featured image from Unsplash, Chart from TradingView