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Hong Kong to Inspect Crypto Platforms Ahead of Crucial Compliance Deadline

Highlights:

  • Hong Kong’s SFC will conduct on-site inspections of crypto trading platforms as the June 1, 2024, deadline for licensing approaches.
  • The SFC emphasizes the protection of client assets and ‘Know Your Client’ measures.
  • Only OSL Digital Securities Limited and Hash Blockchain Limited are currently approved, with 18 applications pending.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced that it will conduct on-site inspections of crypto trading platforms as a key deadline approaches. By June 1, 2024, all virtual asset trading platforms (VATPs) must be licensed or “deemed to be licensed” to comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.

Hong Kong Enforces Strict Crypto Compliance

The SFC clarified that it will concentrate on protecting client assets and implementing ‘Know Your Client’ measures. These are among the measures that the Hong Kong authorities are taking to enhance the stability and credibility of the crypto market within the region. The regulator’s high requirements are necessary to sustain a high level of professionalism in the industry while stressing compliance with essential laws.

At the moment, only OSL Digital Securities Limited and Hash Blockchain Limited are listed by the SFC. Out of them, 18 entities have their applications pending, while 11 entities have withdrawn or had their applications eliminated. This shows the competitiveness of Singapore’s licensing procedures and the strong desire of the SFC to ensure that the crypto industry is well-regulated. Recent pull-outs by established exchanges such as OKX and Huobi Hong Kong show this reality among applicants.

SFC Enforces Strict Licensing for Crypto Firms

The impending June 1 deadline will determine how many of the 18 pending applicants will achieve “deemed-to-be-licensed” status. Those failing to meet the deadline risk facing criminal charges for non-compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws. This underscores the SFC’s resolve to uphold regulatory standards in Hong Kong’s crypto market.

Angela Ang, a senior policy adviser at TRM Labs, noted that the SFC’s rigorous inspections are unsurprising. The agency’s proactive stance aims to prevent potential risks and ensure only compliant platforms operate. This approach is expected to boost investor confidence and contribute to Hong Kong’s reputation as a major crypto hub.

The SFC has made it clear that applicants should only actively market their services or onboard new retail clients once they are fully licensed. This restriction presents a challenge for many platforms eager to expand their market presence. The SFC’s focus on stringent compliance measures further complicates the application process, making it essential for platforms to meet all regulatory requirements. Despite these challenges, the SFC’s actions are seen as a positive step towards creating a secure and transparent crypto market in Hong Kong.

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