The Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong is reportedly set to pass a digital assets’ trading regulation allowing access to retail clients. Reports reveal local Hong Kong brokers and fund managers are inquiring about the SFC licensing to tap on the retail market, per Deloitte.
We have seen a lot of local brokers and fund managers seeking advice from us about the licensing requirements under the new regulatory regime,
says Robert Lui, digital asset leader, Deloitte, Hong Kong.
In December 2022, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO) was amended by the Hong Kong Legislative Council. This amendment enabled a new licensing obligation on virtual-asset service providers (VASPs) from June 2023 under the SFC’s purview.
As of now, in Hong Kong, only those investors and traders are allowed access to digital asset trading who have $1.03 million in bankable assets. This is poised to change with the passing of the new legislation.
Brokers who want to trade virtual assets for retail investors need to have responsible officers with virtual-asset knowledge. They also need to show the SFC that they have internal controls, client money custody and insurance arrangements to safeguard client interests, Lui adds.
A consultation paper from the SFC is expected to ensue, detailing the procedure of permitting retail investors an access to virtual assets. Victory Securities and Interactive Brokers are reportedly permitted to offer the digital assets services to professional investors.
While the fresh licensing requirement was supposed to go live from March 1, 2023, it got delayed to June 1. The delay occurred just to grant enough bracing time to VASPs. The Hong Kong Investment Funds Association (HKIFA) is delighted to witness the developing virtual asset regulatory environment.