Hong Kong SFC to conduct compliance checks on crypto firms

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has announced that it will conduct on-site compliance checks on local virtual asset trading platforms (VATPs) that are still completing their regulatory applications following the June 1 licensing deadline.

In a notice issued on May 28, the SFC emphasized that all local crypto trading platforms must be either licensed or “deemed-to-be-licensed” by the regulatory body before the June 1 deadline. Operating an unlicensed VATP in Hong Kong after this date will be considered a criminal offense, and the SFC will actively pursue non-compliant companies.

In the coming months, the SFC will perform on-site inspections of deemed-to-be-licensed VATP applicants to evaluate their compliance with regulatory requirements. These inspections will focus on how firms safeguard client assets and implement Know Your Customer (KYC) processes.

The SFC urged investors to trade cryptocurrencies only on SFC-licensed platforms to ensure their protection. It also cautioned companies seeking licenses against actively marketing their services or onboarding new retail clients until they are formally licensed. Additionally, firms must prevent mainland Chinese residents from accessing their services, adhering to China’s ban on cryptocurrency trading.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the number of crypto exchanges seeking operational licenses in Hong Kong had been decreasing. Eleven crypto companies and exchanges, including well-known platforms like OKX and Huobi’s local arm, withdrew their applications ahead of the deadline. Currently, only 18 applications remain pending approval.

In response to the upcoming licensing requirements, some crypto firms have proactively taken steps to ensure compliance. For example, Gate.HK, a crypto exchange, halted all activities related to acquiring new users and marketing, prevented existing users from making deposits, and began delisting tokens on May 23. The exchange plans to relaunch its services after restructuring its platform to comply with Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements.

According to the SFC, only two companies, OSL Digital Securities Limited and Hash Blockchain Limited, have been granted licenses to operate in Hong Kong so far.

Source: tradingview.com

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