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OKX Exits Hong Kong Market, Withdraws VASP License Bid

Highlights:

  • OKX will cease centralized virtual asset trading in Hong Kong from May 31, 2024, complying with regulatory requirements.
  • Users are advised to withdraw assets to self-custodial wallets or third-party platforms before August 31, 2024.
  • Despite halting trading operations, OKX will continue to offer Web3 self-hosted wallet services to Hong Kong users.

OKX, a prominent player in the crypto exchange space, has announced its decision to cease operations in Hong Kong. This significant move will take effect on May 31, 2024, as the exchange adapts to the stringent regulatory requirements imposed by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

OKX Ceases Hong Kong Operations

OKX revealed that it will withdraw its Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license application. Consequently, the exchange will halt all centralized virtual asset trading services for Hong Kong users by the end of May 2024. However, the withdrawal service will remain operational, ensuring that users can safely retrieve their funds.

OKX has provided clear instructions to users, advising them to avoid depositing funds after May 31, as these may not be automatically credited to their accounts. Any pending transactions by the cutoff date will be canceled, and the remaining balance will be returned to users’ accounts.

User Guidance and Next Steps

Users are encouraged to withdraw their assets to self-custodial wallets or third-party platforms before the August 31 deadline. This ensures that users retain control over their funds and avoid potential complications. OKX emphasized that assets will be securely held in users’ accounts until the end of August. Any unclaimed assets after this date will be handled according to the company’s Terms of Service.

Despite ceasing trading operations, OKX will continue to offer Web3 self-hosted wallet services to Hong Kong users. This decision allows the exchange to maintain a presence in the market while adapting to the developing regulatory environment.

Regulatory Challenges and Industry Trends

OKX’s withdrawal from Hong Kong is part of a broader trend within the cryptocurrency industry. Many exchanges face increasing regulatory pressures, requiring substantial compliance efforts and capital investments. 

Earlier this year, HKVAEX, backed by Binance, withdrew its application and began winding down operations. Similarly, Huobi Hong Kong and several other applicants have also retracted their license applications.

The new mandatory licensing law for centralized exchanges in Hong Kong, effective since June, demands significant compliance efforts. The SFC has approved only two exchanges under this regime, with many others finding it challenging to meet the stringent requirements.

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