Crypto firms jockey for Hong Kong licenses ahead of June 1 retail opening

The race to snatch up Hong Kong retail crypto traders is about to kick off, with several cryptocurrency companies announcing plans to apply for a license come June 1.

On May 29, the Hong Kong-based crypto exchange CoinEx became the latest to signal its entry to the city, saying it’s launching a local platform called BitHK, which will submit its Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license application to the securities regulator on June 1.

On the same day, Huobi tweeted that its Hong Kong entity was offering crypto trading to local retail traders. The exchange submitted its VASP application to the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) on May 29.

Last week the exchanges and BitMEX announced their applications and dedicated Hong Kong crypto trading services.

Others — such as OKX; Hong Kong’s largest digital bank, ZA Bank; and a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned multi-industry conglomerate Greenland Holdings — have all signaled their intentions to gain a VASP license.

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The SFC announced on May 23 that licensed VASPs could serve retail investors come June 1 and those willing to comply with its guidelines around safe asset custody, security standards, asset segregation and more are welcome to apply for a license.

New industry groups join the party

On May 29, two new crypto industry groups — Hong Kong Licensed Virtual Assets Association (HKLVAA) and Web3 Harbour — announced their launches in a joint statement.

Both were made to serve different facets of the industry. The HKLVAA is aimed at serving VASP-licensed firms and those interested in getting licensed in the city, while Web3 Harbour is aimed at helping local Web3 development.

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