On Thursday, Hong Kong took a step toward becoming a cryptocurrency hub with the start of applications for licenses to run trading platforms and exchanges, Nikkei reported. Trading of cryptocurrencies in the Chinese territory has been restricted to institutional investors and other professionals since 2018, but Hong Kong's new regulations will allow retail trading as soon as the second half of 2023, which means that HK will soon emerge as the conduit by which billions in Chinese retail savings mysteriously disappear into the outside world, a function that until not too long ago was served by Macau.
Officials said the city's move to welcome crypto, which comes amid global regulatory headwinds for the industry, is backed by safeguards for investors.
"Hong Kong's comprehensive virtual assets regulatory framework follows the principle of 'same business, same risks, same rules' and aims to provide robust investor protection and manage key risks," said Julia Leung, CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission. "This will enable the industry to develop sustainably and support innovation."