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Hong Kong Strengthens Crypto Landscape with HKMA Guidelines and Regulatory Advances

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has recently published guidelines for tokenization and digital asset custody, highlighting the region’s commitment to strengthening its regulatory framework in the crypto space.

The 11-page circular issued by the HKMA outlines standards for locally authorized institutions, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive risk assessments and proper governance for crypto custody services.

Institutions are urged to allocate sufficient resources to ensure effective risk management and to establish internal policies addressing potential conflicts of interest. The guidance also mandates the segregation of client assets from company assets and the implementation of contingency and disaster recovery plans to mitigate the risk of asset loss or inaccessibility.

Moreover, the HKMA requires full disclosure of risks associated with crypto custody arrangements and compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and countering terrorist financing (CTF) guidance. Authorized institutions are given a six-month window to confirm their compliance with the outlined standards.

These guidelines come amidst Hong Kong’s efforts to reclaim its position as Asia’s crypto hub. In June 2023, the region initiated a licensing regime for virtual asset trading platforms, granting licenses to platforms like HashKey and OSL. The recent move by the HKMA further solidifies Hong Kong’s commitment to fostering a regulated and secure crypto ecosystem.

Stablecoin Legislation

In parallel, Hong Kong’s government is progressing towards establishing licensing frameworks for stablecoin and over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading. Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, announced plans to submit licensing bills as consultations progress.

The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) launched public consultations on these proposals, which reflects Hong Kong’s proactive approach to regulatory development.

However, amidst Hong Kong’s strides in crypto adoption, concerns about crypto-related crimes have emerged.

Hui highlighted an alarming increase in crypto-related criminal cases in recent years, with 3,415 cases reported in 2023 alone, involving nearly HK$4.4 billion.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has received 18 crypto license applications from both local and global players in a span of two months. Notable applicants include Huobi HK,, OKX, Bybit, and DFX Labs, demonstrating the growing interest in Hong Kong’s regulated crypto market.

These applications underscore Hong Kong’s attractiveness to crypto exchanges and traditional brokerages alike. Tiger Brokers, a Chinese stock brokerage, expanded its license to include crypto trading, recognizing the growing significance of crypto as an asset class.

The convergence of regulatory clarity and investor safeguards positions Hong Kong as a key player in the global crypto ecosystem, in the aim of fostering innovation while mitigating risks associated with digital assets.

News Desk

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