The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong has issued a stern warning about the surge of unlicensed virtual asset trading platforms that are engaging in improper practices. These platforms are at risk of facing potential criminal charges due to their unauthorized operations in the region.

Effective from June 1, the SFC introduced a comprehensive licensing regime for cryptocurrency firms offering services or conducting operations within Hong Kong. This move aimed to establish a more stringent regulatory framework, ensuring compliance with updated requirements.

SFC’s Warning against Unlicensed Activity

On August 7, the SFC released an official notice highlighting the concern over unlicensed trading entities that are flouting the regulatory guidelines. These platforms, despite their lack of official licenses, have been making false claims about submitting applications for approval in Hong Kong. The securities regulator emphasized that any such misleading statements could result in potential criminal charges.

Furthermore, the SFC identified a troubling trend among certain unlicensed crypto trading platforms in Hong Kong. These platforms have taken to establishing new entities, purportedly to indicate their intent to comply with the regulatory standards set forth by the SFC.

Hong Kong flag and cryptocurrencies

However, the services and products offered by these newly formed entities often fall short of adhering to the legal and regulatory requirements outlined by the SFC. Notably, these regulatory rules became effective as of June 1.

The financial watchdog expressed its firm stance on the matter. They asserted that any established entities engaging in unlicensed activities within Hong Kong are committing a criminal offense. To rectify the situation, these entities have two options: either apply for SFC licenses to operate within the bounds of the law or cease their operations entirely in the region.

Licensed Firms Set the Standard

In contrast to the unlicensed entities facing scrutiny, certain cryptocurrency firms have successfully obtained licenses under the SFC’s regulatory regime. Prominent names like HashKey and OSL have met the rigorous standards set by the commission. This grants them the authority to offer diverse crypto services to the residents of Hong Kong.

Under the new licensing regime, cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers must uphold strict protocols. These protocols include ensuring secure custody of assets and adhering to guidelines such as Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) rules.

Such measures not only contribute to the overall security of the cryptocurrency ecosystem but also foster a safer environment for the residents of Hong Kong to engage with crypto services.

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