The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has said it will soon enable licensed platforms to serve retail investors.
On May 23, the SFC made an announcement stating operators of virtual asset trading platforms can apply for a licence – providing they comply with the SFC’s proposed guidelines.
The virtual asset trading platform guidelines will include cybersecurity standards, asset custody safety requirements, and the segregation of client assets, among other prerequisites.
Providing clear regulations is “key” to creating a responsible and innovative development environment, according to SFC CEO Julia Leung.
“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,” she said.
So far, the SFC has received 152 written submissions from the sector during the consultation period “from industry and professional associations, consultancy firms, market participants, licensed corporations, individuals and other stakeholders,” according to the announcement.
Moreover, the statutory body said it would “implement a number of robust measures” to protect retail investors “including ensuring suitability in the onboarding process, good governance, enhanced token due diligence, admission criteria and disclosures”.
According to the announcement, most virtual asset trading platforms available to the public are not regulated by the SFC, thus, although the guidelines will become effective in June 2023, the organization has not yet approved any virtual asset trading platforms to provide services to retail investors.
Additionally, those who opt out of adhering to the new guidelines are expected to plan for an “orderly closure” of business operations in Hong Kong.
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