Hong Kong-based Hashkey Exchange begins accepting retail crypto investors as city seeks to become worldwide hub for digital asset trading
Hong Kong-based Hashkey Exchange, one of the city’s first licensed cryptocurrency firms, has begun officially accepting retail investors as part of the Asian fiancial hub’s efforts to turn itself into a major centre for regulated digital asset trading.
Hong Kong’s crypto licensing regime, the Guidelines for Virtual Asset Trading Platform Operators, took effect in June and is closely watched as countries around the world develop regulatory strategies for the volatile sector.
HashKey and OSL were previously the only two local exchanges licensed by the city’s Securities Futures Commission (SFC) to offer crypto services to institutional investors.
Both said a month ago that their licenses had been upgraded to allow them to bring in retail investors as well.
Hashkey’s new offering initially allows retail investors to buy the two biggest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ether, directly with US dollars.
Chief operating officer Livio Weng told a Monday press event that Hong Kong dollars would be offered “within a week or two”.
Weng said in an earlier statement that the exchange would be focusing on the biggest cryptocoins for retail investors, due to the greater volatility of smaller coins.
Chinese mainland IP addresses are barred from the service due to regulations prohibiting all crypto transactions, he noted.
He said Hashkey hopes to expand its registered retail user base to between 500,000 and 1 million by the end of this year.
“We’re also anticipating a more bullish market next year. If that’s the case, we would target to serve 10 million users by 2025,” Weng said.
The firm said it is working with ZA Bank, the city’s biggest virtual bank, as well as an unnamed note-issuing bank to facilitate investor deposits and withdrawals.
Cryptocurrencies remain largely unregulated, and approaches to instituting more controls have varied widely from one country to another.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched several high-profile lawsuits aimed at forcing companies that operate in the country to register under securities laws, while the UK government said in April it aims to bring in crypto regulations in the next 12 months.