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UBS Joins Crypto Wave in Hong Kong, Allowing Trading of ETFs

UBS Group AG has followed in the footsteps of peers like HSBC Holdings Plc by permitting clients in Hong Kong to engage in the trading of select crypto-linked exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as reported by Bloomberg.

This move aligns with Hong Kong’s initiative to establish itself as a digital asset hub. Wealthy clients on UBS’s Hong Kong platform will gain access to three crypto ETFs approved by the Securities and Futures Commission, namely the Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active, CSOP Bitcoin Futures, and CSOP Ether Futures ETFs. The development is set to take effect from Friday, according to an individual familiar with the matter who preferred to remain anonymous.

As part of this offering, UBS clients will also be provided with educational materials aimed at enhancing their understanding of associated risks. The specific ETFs selected by the Swiss bank are noteworthy, and the inclusion of such crypto investment options indicates a shifting landscape in traditional finance. However, UBS has chosen not to provide comments on this matter.

Hong Kong implemented a digital asset regulatory framework on June 1, aimed at safeguarding investors while fostering the growth of a digital hub. The Securities and Futures Commission allows retail investors to trade major tokens on licensed exchanges under these rules. Currently, the agency permits futures-based ETFs and is considering the inclusion of spot crypto ETFs.

Despite these efforts, Hong Kong’s ambitions in the crypto space faced challenges with the recent unlicensed JPEX exchange controversy, leading to increased scrutiny of the industry through the establishment of a joint SFC-police task force. The crypto sector has been gradually recovering from the market downturn in 2022 and notable collapses, such as the bankruptcy of FTX platform led by Sam Bankman-Fried.

The possibility of the U.S. approving its first spot Bitcoin ETFs has contributed to a resurgence in the largest token’s price this year. Financial institutions worldwide, although cautious about compliance risks, are displaying increasing interest in the crypto economy. DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and ZA Bank Ltd. have expressed intentions to offer crypto services in Hong Kong, while SEBA Bank AG has received a license for its unit to provide crypto services in the region.

The CSOP Bitcoin Futures and CSOP Ether Futures funds, launched in December as Asia’s first listed Bitcoin and Ether futures ETFs, currently hold a combined asset value of approximately $70 million. This figure reflects a diminished level of interest in crypto compared to the peak of the market’s pandemic-era boom.

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