Huobi, OKX To Apply For Hong Kong Crypto Licences

Major cryptocurrency exchanges Huobi Global and OKX, both originally from mainland China, have said they plan to apply for licences in Hong Kong under a regulatory regime set to take effect from June.

Justin Sun, a prominent crypto industry figure who founded the blockchain platform Tron and who acts as the head of Huobi, announced the company’s plans in a Twitter post on Monday.

Sun said a new platform called Huobi Hong Kong would be created to take advantage of the new regime.

In an interview with Nikkei Sun said Huobi was planning to relocate its Asian headquarters from Singapore to Hong Kong to capitalise on the new regulatory plans.

Crypto hub

He cited the city’s recent crypto-friendly moves, including the announcement that it would allow crypto exchanges to serve retail customers.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said in a consultation paper on Monday it planned to allow retail investors to trade coins with large market capitalisations, such as Bitcoin and Ether, on licensed exchanges.

The SFC’s paper didn’t name particular coins.

In the Nikkei interview Sun added that Huobi was planning to expand its headcount in Hong Kong from 50 to 200 by the end of this year.

OKX foundar Star Xu said in a separate Twitter post on Friday that the company had begun its Hong Kong licence application process last year.

Clear framework

OKX’s managing director, Lennix Lai, retweeted the message on Monday and added that the company has a team of more than 20 people working on compliance in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s plans to develop a clear regulatory structure for crypto are part of a scheme to turn the city into a crypto hub.

The plans have attracted attention from governments around the world following the collapse of major crypto firms last year, including FTX, formerly the world’s second-largest crypto exchange.

The UK, the EU and other governments are developing regulations likewise intended to provide a clear framework for the operations of the crypto industry, which remains largely without official oversight.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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