The city of Hong Kong is serious about crypto. After three years of struggles with COVID-19, the city is vibrant and flourishing again as business executives and tourists of all kinds pour back into Asia’s financial center. New guidelines from the Securities and Futures Commission are paving the way.
Since Hong Kong FinTech Week last year regulators have been building a comprehensive license regime for digital assets. Regulated under the principle of “same business, same risks, same rules,” digital assets are now being approached with similar rules to traditional financial ones. This has resulted in breakthrough moments for the industry this year such as when Hong Kong’s licensed exchange HashKey launched a digital asset exchange App, and various traditional financial institutions received relevant licenses allowing them to offer digital asset retail trading.
This was made possible by the Hong Kong government’s comprehensive strategy to make the city a desirable Web3 hub. It started with a goal to improve foreign investment and talent recruitment.
The Hong Kong government sees the digital assets industry as a driving force behind its immigration and foreign investment back into the city. Other steps the Hong Kong government has taken in this area include: announcing a series of policies focused on attracting overseas family offices with tax incentives and releasing a plan that allows Bitcoin to be purchased through compliant exchanges which is currently under consideration by Hong Kong’s Investment Immigration Program.
By attracting foreign investment and top talent, city leaders hope to recover business confidence and a more diverse digital economy. In addition, the updated immigration talent scheme is designed to attract high earners and foreign graduates from top universities. So far the Secretary for Labour revealed the office has received more than the expected number of applications. All these efforts will lay a stronger foundation for the city to have a diverse pool of talent for the digital economy.
Digital asset licensing has opened up opportunities to create powerhouse Hong Kong-based crypto companies. At Metalpha, we recently obtained an uplift on our Type 4 license (advising on securities). This will enable us to expand our efforts in advisory and issuing analysis, and allow us to publish reports to qualified investors on digital assets. This is a milestone for us and it further shows SFC’s confidence in our business approach.
In fact, since the start of this year, we have observed strong demand from family offices and public companies asking how to invest in Bitcoin in a compliant way. Smart investors who see through the noise and beyond the negative headlines are being rewarded with clear opportunities to grow and benefit from crypto and Web3. I believe more companies will apply for licenses to attract investment, boost their business credibility, and pursue new opportunities as a result.
A recent story reported by the Financial Times shows that Hong Kong is projected to overtake Switzerland as the world’s leading cross-border wealth management as Asia spearheads the growth. This massive global wealth shift presents a great opportunity for investors eyeing digital assets. As regulations become clearer for the digital assets industry in the coming years, Hong Kong will stand out as a city that offers a balanced approach to innovation and risk assessment.
Looking forward to the new year, I am confident that Hong Kong will keep playing a key role in building the Web3 hub and enter further direct competition with Singapore, which had an early mover advantage in crypto. And this is a good thing. Investors should have more options to choose the best crypto projects or companies to work with. As for customers, it will boost confidence once they know their service provider is secure and compliant in the eyes of regulators.
This is a guest post by Adrian Wang. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.