Hong Kong landlords lease to crypto exchanges following regulatory clarity

Hongkong Land, a property landlord in Hong Kong, has leased out commercial office space to a local crypto-asset firm named HashKey Group following clarity around cryptocurrency regulations. 

Neil Anderson, Hongkong Land’s director, believes that the decision to lease commercial property to crypto businesses was heavily reliant on the recent crypto regulations set by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC):

“The SFC’s recent decision to regulate digital asset exchanges in Hong Kong gives us confidence that this new asset class has a regulatory framework, and therefore a future within the finance industry.”

Hong Kong regulators require crypto businesses to be licensed locally and offer their services only to professional investors.

Hong Kong’s regulatory decisions around cryptocurrency have brewed mixed feelings among local investors. However, Christopher Hui, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, has defended the recent proposal to ban retail crypto trading.

Hui said that a regulatory framework that bans retail crypto activity help against “market manipulation, money laundering and terrorist financing.”

According to Hongkong Land, HashKey Group has rented an entire floor in the Three Exchange Square building in Central, Hong Kong, which is partly owned by the Hong Kong government.

Related: Restricting crypto trading to millionaires good for Hong Kong, says official

On the flip side, the demand for commercial spaces from traditional banks is declining, primarily attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. HashKey, currently operating from a business park dedicated to start-up businesses, will be taking up space previously leased by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

Bloomberg reported that mainstream fintech giants including Standard Chartered and BNP Paribas have reduced their office space. This is supported by data from Jones Lang LaSalle, which shows a 9.6% vacancy in the Central region, which has almost doubled from last year.

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