Last year Hong Kong announced it was planning to relax its stringent cryptocurrency trading rules and allow retail investors to participate. Today two crypto trading firms, OSL and HashKey, announced they received virtual asset licenses from the Securities and Future Commission (SFC) allowing them to deal with retail clients.
The companies already had licenses to target professional investors, with HashKey receiving approval late last year and OSL two years earlier. They both emphasized safety as key priorities. No other exchanges have licenses to operate in Hong Kong.
OSL said it is allowed to support trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum in the first instance.
“With the establishment of licenced trading platforms and the further clarity of regulatory frameworks in Hong Kong, the industry as a whole will witness increased transparency, leading to a significant boost in investor confidence,” said Livio Weng, COO of HashKey Group.
HashKey explicitly mentioned it has a banking relationship with Standard Chartered as an onramp and offramp. It’s likely OSL has a similar deal particularly as it has a crypto joint venture with the bank in the UK, Zodia Markets.
Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SFC had summoned several banks to a meeting to get them to provide banking services to crypto firms. WSJ said at least two global banks in the city were unwilling to support transfers linked to crypto trading.
The meeting included representative form HSBC, Standard Chartered, Bank of China (HK), Citibank, Singapore’s DBS Group and China Construction Bank. Reportedly there were 100 people from banks and around 80 from crypto firms.