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Hong Kong SFC CEO Stresses the Vital Role of Crypto Trading in the Virtual Asset Ecosystem

Julia Leung Fung-yee, the CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong Stresses the Significance of Crypto Trading in the Virtual Asset Ecosystem Following FTX's Bankruptcy

In the wake of the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX in November 2022, Hong Kong's embrace of Web3 regulation has taken center stage. Julia Leung Fung-yee, the CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong, has emphasized the importance of crypto trading as an integral part of the virtual asset ecosystem. In her view, incorporating virtual asset providers into the regulatory system is crucial for both investor protection and fostering innovation while addressing the risks faced by financial institutions.


Protecting Investors and Strengthening Market Trust:

Julia Leung's recent speech highlighted the need to establish a new licensing system for virtual asset providers. The objective behind this system is to safeguard investors while also considering the risks associated with financial institutions. By incorporating virtual asset providers into the regulatory framework, Hong Kong aims to embrace innovation and enhance market trust, particularly in the aftermath of FTX's bankruptcy.


Reducing Regulatory Risks and Strengthening Legislation:

Hong Kong seized the opportunity presented by the FTX collapse to mitigate regulatory risks associated with centralized exchanges. The legislative council swiftly responded by including virtual asset service providers within the same legislation that governs traditional financial institutions. These new rules bring about stringent Anti-Money Laundering guidelines and investor protection laws for digital asset exchanges intending to establish a presence in Hong Kong.


Expanding Access for Retail Investors:

The recent changes in legislation also introduce a new licensing scheme that permits retail investors to trade virtual assets. Prior to this development, digital asset trading was limited to professional investors and traders with a minimum of $1 million in bankable assets. The inclusion of retail investors not only expands market participation but also provides an opportunity for wider adoption of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets.

Hong Kong's Approach and Policy:

Julia Leung views Hong Kong's cryptocurrency licensing system as a testament to China's "one country, two systems" policy. While mainland China has banned cryptocurrencies since 2021, Hong Kong has adopted a different approach by fostering a welcoming environment for the crypto industry. This divergence allows Hong Kong to leverage its unique position and attract Web3 firms and innovation.


Hong Kong as a Hub for Web3 Firms:

Hong Kong's efforts to embrace Web3 regulation and its commitment to fostering innovation have yielded positive results. Over the past year, more than 150 Web3 firms have established operations in Hong Kong's Cyberport, a digital hub created by the local government to promote technological advancement. In addition, the government allocated 50 million yuan ($7 million) to expedite the development of Web3, further solidifying Hong Kong's position as an attractive destination for the crypto industry.


Conclusion:

Hong Kong's response to the FTX bankruptcy has been swift and comprehensive, demonstrating its commitment to protecting investors, fostering innovation, and building market trust. By incorporating virtual asset providers into the regulatory system, Hong Kong aims to strike a balance between embracing technological advancements and managing associated risks. The inclusion of retail investors in the virtual asset market further promotes accessibility and market growth. As Web3 firms continue to flock to Hong Kong, it is poised to become a significant hub for innovation and development in the crypto industry.

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